This year, WI-AIMH reached out to finalists for the James R. Ryan Memorial Award for their comments. Finalists who responded are listed below.
If you are an award finalist and would like to submit your comments, please email Melissa Minkoff at email@example.com.
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to my nomination for the James R. Ryan Award.
When I first learned that my colleagues in the community and those who mentor and teach in the UW Infant, Early Childhood and Family Mental Health Capstone Certificate Program had nominated me for this award, I was incredibly touched by their appreciation of my contributions to both community programs and to their own development as Infant Mental Health professionals. I was also incredibly honored to be considered for the James R. Ryan Award as I was truly inspired by Jim and his incredible commitment to growing Infant Mental Health in Wisconsin! I have a deep gratitude for the opportunity to have worked with Jim and the other passionate individuals he brought together to develop an Infant Mental Health professional organization, to widen public awareness of Infant Mental Health, to advocate for the needed policies and services necessary to support healthy social-emotional development in our youngest children and for the support that parents and caregivers and “all who touch the lives of babies in Wisconsin” need to ensure this! Look where we are now…with WI-AIMH thriving in growth and effectiveness in advocacy, support for reflective practice and infant mental health consultation and as our professional organization and connected to the World Association of Infant Mental Health, providing us with a rich annual conference, a rich newsletter and Facebook page, the Endorsement, and Regional Chapters, all supporting a sense of connectedness. This is truly parallel process embodied, as we feel supported, we are that much more able to support the parents we work with and they are more able to support the development and well-being of their babies and young children!
I have long been committed to reaching the underserved and most vulnerable infants, young children and their parents and caregivers in our community and in our state since I came to Madison 32 years ago. I had been involved in developing the Illinois Infant Mental Health Association and when I moved to Madison, I was initially disheartened to find that Infant Mental Health was not a familiar concept in Wisconsin. However, through my work with the Rainbow Project, the incredible agency lead by Sharyl Kato that provides mental health services to young children and families affected by abuse, neglect and family violence and in my work with the nursing staff and parents in the NICU at Meriter, I was reminded that of course there were many babies and parents who were suffering. Thus, I was compelled to write a grant and was fortunate to receive eight years of funding from the Section on Maternal-Child Health, WI Department of Health and Social Services to support the development of the Parent-Infant and Early Childhood Clinic in the UW Department of Psychiatry and to provide consultation to Pediatrics, Public Health Nurses providing home visiting, the Early Childhood Education program in the schools and the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter for Families. I enjoyed the opportunity to support pediatric residents in engaging parents in learning about the amazing capacities of their newborns, child psychiatry fellows in supporting parents who were homeless with babies and young children and public health nurses in screening and providing support for mothers experiencing postpartum depression. I worked with home visitors, child care staff and public health nurses through brown bag lunch learning sessions and case consultations focused on early social-emotional development and recognizing what disturbances look like in infants, young children and early parent-child relationships as well as recognizing resilience in the most vulnerable infants and parents. Then, the opportunity became available to work with the staff of the Dane County Executive’s office and at Dane County Human Services, to develop the Early Childhood Initiative(ECI), a comprehensive home visiting program that incorporated mental health consultation to support home visitors and the families they work with and most recently another wonderful opportunity through the Department of Children and Families, to Address Postpartum Depression in Wisconsin Home Visiting Programs and in the last 3 years we have partnered with Family Foundation Home Visiting Programs in Dane, Green, Rock and Brown Counties and with the Lac Courte Orielles Tribal Home Visiting program to integrate the Mother-Infant Therapy Group for Postpartum Depression into Home Visiting thereby alleviating the barriers of transportation, child care and long waiting lists for much needed mental health services. In 2008, I was thrilled to partner with Linda Tuchman-Ginsberg to make our dreams come true by developing the UW Infant, Early Childhood and Family Mental Health Certificate Program and with our wonderful Reflective Mentors and Faculty who inspire and support the many motivated and caring professionals who have participated in the Certificate Program and the Capstone Certificate Program over the last 7 years. There is now a strong network of Infant Mental Health professionals in Wisconsin! Through teaching, providing reflective consultation, mentoring and learning from the committed professionals in the Capstone Certificate Program and most recently, the Trauma Informed Child-Parent Psychotherapy Learning Collaborative, have been extraordinarily meaningful professional development experiences to me. There is a new generation of committed, creative and mindful infant mental health professionals who I know are currently and will continue to provide compassionate, reflective, and skillful services and support to families of our youngest and most vulnerable children as well as needed advocacy now and into the future! We are very fortunate to have this growing cadre of inspired and talented Infant Mental Health professionals from many disciplines and service settings and I am very fortunate to work among them!