Infant, Early Childhood & Family Mental Health

mom kisses her baby on the cheek

The UW–Madison Capstone Certificate in Infant, Early Childhood, and Family Mental Health offers you the knowledge and experience to provide direct and consultative relationship-based services to children and their families.


Is this program right for you?

Nearly one-quarter of children ages birth through five years show signs of some mental health concern. Here in Wisconsin, we have an urgent need for mental health professionals who can effectively assess and address mental health concerns in infants and young children in the context of their primarily caregiving relationships. Through the UW Infant, Early Childhood, and Family Mental Health Capstone Certificate Program, you will gain knowledge and experience in culturally sensitive, relationship-based, trauma-informed and reflective practices that support the development of healthy attachment relationships for families who face multiple stressors.

Many of our students currently work in mental health, health, home visiting, the Birth to 3 Program, Early Childhood Programs, social services, nursing or early care and education fields. Like you, they want to better assist families in the prenatal and postpartum periods and improve outcomes for children ages birth through five years and their caregivers.

Through our program you will gain an enhanced understanding of mental health issues in infants, children, and parents, and build the skills to support children’s social and emotional development. You will also have an opportunity to acquire the knowledge and develop competencies relevant to pursuing Endorsement as an Infant Family Specialist, Infant Mental Health Specialist, or Infant Mental Health Mentor through the Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health (WI-AIMH).

Our courses are taught by nationally recognized experts and state specialists in the field. We provide a small group setting where you receive reflective mentoring, as well as a mindfulness class. This program also provides an opportunity to build relationships with people who work in this specialty area and who share your goals and interest in working with infants, young children, and their families.

Is this program right for you?

Nearly one-quarter of children ages birth through five years show signs of some mental health concern. Here in Wisconsin, we have an urgent need for mental health professionals who can effectively assess and address mental health concerns in infants and young children in the context of their primarily caregiving relationships. Through the UW Infant, Early Childhood, and Family Mental Health Capstone Certificate Program, you will gain knowledge and experience in culturally sensitive, relationship-based, trauma-informed and reflective practices that support the development of healthy attachment relationships for families who face multiple stressors.

Many of our students currently work in mental health, health, home visiting, the Birth to 3 Program, Early Childhood Programs, social services, nursing or early care and education fields. Like you, they want to better assist families in the prenatal and postpartum periods and improve outcomes for children ages birth through five years and their caregivers.

Through our program you will gain an enhanced understanding of mental health issues in infants, children, and parents, and build the skills to support children’s social and emotional development. You will also have an opportunity to acquire the knowledge and develop competencies relevant to pursuing Endorsement as an Infant Family Specialist, Infant Mental Health Specialist, or Infant Mental Health Mentor through the Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health (WI-AIMH).

Our courses are taught by nationally recognized experts and state specialists in the field. We provide a small group setting where you receive reflective mentoring, as well as a mindfulness class. This program also provides an opportunity to build relationships with people who work in this specialty area and who share your goals and interest in working with infants, young children, and their families.

Admissions requirements

All applicants must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or its equivalent and a minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

To apply:

  • Online application to UW–Madison as University Special Student.
  • Infant, Early Childhood and Family Mental Health Capstone Certificate program application.
  • CV/Resume.
  • Two letters of reference.
  • For licensed professionals, copies of your current licenses and/or credentials.

Applications accepted for fall enrollment.

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Program highlights

  • We make sure you can return to your career quickly. We only require you to attend 2-3 days of classroom instruction each month, and you earn your certificate in just one year.
  • Our program is offered through UW–Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health’s Department of Psychiatry. Through our program you will be able to connect with leading researchers and practitioners in infant, early childhood, and family mental health.
  • You will learn how to use reflective and meaningful strategies to provide support, and learn how to assess and offer referral services to young families with mental health issues.

How you'll learn

  • Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus three days a month (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) during the academic year.
  • Class instruction includes large and small group sessions. Between sessions, there will be applied assignments and individual mentoring sessions.
  • Work in a cohort of students who collaborate with and support each other.

Sample curriculum

  • Foundations in Infant, Early Childhood, and Family Mental Health Concepts
  • Therapeutic Interventions, Practices, and Policy
  • Seminar in Reflective Practices and Mindfulness I & II
  • Consultation in Infant, Early Childhood, and Family Mental Health: Advanced Clinical Practice I & II*

*Only licensed mental health professionals may take these additional courses in the same or subsequent academic year as cohort participation

Job outlook

Market Salary
$49K in 2018

Projected Job Growth
14.2% for Child, Family, and School Social Workers (2016-2026)

Job Postings
3,473 in 2018

Top Locations
  • California
  • Illinois
  • Tennessee
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky

Source: Burning Glass Technologies: Labor Insight. 2019.
Burning Glass Technologies’ Market Salary is an estimated expected salary. Market Salary uses machine learning algorithms to account for experience, skill, and education among other factors that may impact individual salaries.

Ready to learn more about Infant, Early Childhood & Family Mental Health?
View the UW-Madison Guide

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Connect with our enrollment coaches

Our friendly, knowledgeable enrollment coaches are here to answer your questions. Contact an enrollment coach to:

  • Learn how to make this program work with your life/schedule
  • Verify credit transfers
  • Get help with your application
  • Determine if financial aid is available

Visit with our coaches on campus or at an upcoming student fair in your area. Search student fairs & events

Connect with a coach

Kathleen Hipke

 One of the things my certificate program did very well is pulling in instructors who are well known nationally for their clinical and research work. It balances that with expertise in our state, so I could deepen my learning with mentors here in Wisconsin I’d looked up to for a long time. Those people have become part of my professional network as well, and that’s opened a lot of doors for me.  

Kathleen Hipke, Psychologist: maternal and infant mental health specialization at SSM Health
Read more about Kathleen