Gerri's Gazette September 2023

First Things First Family Survey

Are you a working parent? Has your employer asked you to fill out this survey? Great! We hope you did. If you are a working parent and have not seen this before, here is an opportunity to share your experience with child care.

First Things First (FTF) created a short survey and is asking Arizona employers — big and small — to encourage their employees to fill it out. Arizona’s early childhood agency wants to hear from working families about the challenges they face with child care for young children.

Parenting Tips on Playing with Baby and Toddlers

Playtime is special. Not only is it fun, but it is critical to children’s development. Play is their “work” and their way of learning about the world around them. Through play, babies and toddlers try out new skills, explore their imagination and creativity, and learn about relationships with other people.

Any activity can be playful to young children, whether it’s rolling trucks back and forth or sorting socks. And any type of play can offer multiple opportunities to learn and practice new skills:

As a parent, you are your child’s very first and favorite playmate. From the very beginning of your child’s life, he is playing with you, whether he is watching your face as you feed him or listening to your voice as you sing to him during his diaper change. He is at work, learning and exploring.

So what can you do to make the most of your child’s playtime?

Follow your child’s lead

Provide an object, toy, or activity for your baby or toddler and then see what he does with it. It’s okay if it’s not the “right” way…let him show you a “new way.”

Go slowly

It’s great to show your child how a toy works, but try to hold off on “doing it for him” every time. You can begin something, such as stacking one block on another, and then encourage him to give it a try. Providing just enough help to keep frustration at bay motivates your child to learn new skills.

Read your child’s signals

Your little one may not be able to tell you using words when he’s had enough or when he’s frustrated. But he has other ways—like using his sounds, facial expressions, and gestures. Reading the signals that precede a tantrum help you know when to jump in or change to a new activity. Reading his signals can also tell you what activities your child prefers.

Look at your play space

Is the area child-friendly and child-safe? Is there too much noise or other distractions? Is the area safe to explore? Is this a good place for the activity you’ve chosen, such as running, throwing balls, or painting? Checking out your space beforehand can prevent a tantrum, an accident, or a broken lamp.

Play it again, Sam

While this desire to do things over and over again is not necessarily thrilling for moms and dads, it is for their young children. They are practicing in order to master a challenge. And when they can do it “All by myself!” they are rewarded with a powerful sense of their own competency—a confidence that they are smart and successful beings. The more they practice and master new skills, the more likely they are to take on new challenges and the learning continues. So when you’re tempted to hide that toy that you don’t think you can stand playing with yet one more time, remember the essential role repetition plays in your child’s development.

Adapt play activities to meet your child’s needs

You may be a parent, relative, or caregiver of a child that has special needs. A physical, mental, or social disability can pose the occasional challenge to play time. Still, all children learn through play and any play activity can be adapted to meet a child’s unique needs. The guidelines below can help you think about how to make playtime enjoyable and appropriate to your child’s skills, preferences, and abilities:

Think about the environment.

How do variables like sound or light affect your child? What is the background noise like in your play area? Is there a television or radio on? Are there many other kids around? If your child seems distressed during playtime, and you’ve tried everything else, move to a quieter, less stimulating area to play.

How does your child respond to new things?

Some infants and toddlers, particularly if they have a special need, are easily overstimulated, while others enjoy a lot of activity. Try starting playtime slowly, with one toy or object, and gradually add others. See what kind of reactions you get. Are there smiles when a stuffed bear is touched and hugged? Does your child seem startled by the loud noises coming from the toy fire engine?

How does your child react to different textures, smells, and tastes?

For example, some objects may be particularly enjoyable for your little one to touch and hold. Others may “feel funny” to them. Read your child’s signals and modify the play experience accordingly.

Involve peers.

It is important for a child with special needs, just as it is for a child who is typically developing, to establish relationships with peers. Arrange playdates or look for opportunities for your child to play with other children, such as at the park or during a library story hour. Having fun with peers is an important way that children learn social skills like sharing, conflict resolution, and empathy—and also help prepare children for the school setting later on.

Article from zerotothree.org

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Call for Volunteers

Seeking Parent Advocates

The Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC) values your input and seeks your support.

Members of the ICC are appointed by the Governor. The council is composed of parents of children with disabilities, early intervention service providers, health care professionals, state agency representatives, and others interested in early intervention.

Take this opportunity to become an engaged and active member of the ICC. Learn more about the ICC for Infants and Toddlers. And visit us on the ICC Facebook page!

Share Your Family's Story!

Hearing from families about their experience in early intervention helps AzEIP improve services.

By completing and submitting this survey, you are agreeing to present your family story at a future ICC meeting and have your story and photo featured in the AzEIP Newsletter. We ask that you keep names of contractors/providers private during your presentation. If you have concerns or feedback please call AzEIP at (602) 532-9960.


Or, share your story for AzEIP the Department of Economic Security to feature on its website and social media! Here are a couple of examples:

Please let your AzEIP service coordinator know if you're willing to share your story publicly. Thank you!


Parents Partners Plus

Find The Right Program for You and Your Baby - Parents Partners Plus

Stop by the AzEIP table at this incredible event!


The Family Involvement Center offers a warm line for family members. They offer support to family members that deal with behavioral health challenges. This service is also available at no cost.

  • Statewide phone number: 1-877-568-8468
  • Hours: Monday - Friday: 8am - 6pm | Saturday - Sunday: 8am - 12pm

Need help navigating child-serving systems

Family Involvement Center Upcoming Featured Events


Navajo Nation Early Childhood Speaker Series

AzEIP Tribal Liaison is Jerrilene Antone Morton


2.1.1 Arizona /Helpful Resources

Resource Programs & Descriptions by Arizona Community Action Association Self Help.org


Find out if you're eligible for WICI.

Family Resource Centers - First Things First

Infant/Toddler Mental Health Coalition

The Infant/Toddler Mental Health Coalition (ITMHCA) is a voluntary 501c(3) organization that was established in 1995 which promotes the understanding that infancy is a critically important period in psychosocial development. Therefore, equally critical is the collaboration of professionals from local, state, and nonprofit community-based organizations to work toward policy and social change for the benefit of Arizona's youngest children and their families.


ITMHCA provides infant mental health and child development training and offers a professional endorsement to individuals from a variety of disciplines who work with infants and toddlers. A bi-annual Institute brings high-quality infant/toddler mental health speakers and workshops to the Southwest.

Optimum infant mental health is that "Goodness of Fit" between the infant and his or her environment and parents, guardians or caretakers. This "goodness of fit" allows for emotional growth and development demonstrated by:

  • Healthy attachment between the child and the caregivers, parents and guardians;
  • Emerging self-confidence;
  • Competency in human relationships; and
  • Behavior appropriate to developmental stage.

ITMHCA serves as a forum for interdisciplinary exchange, education and collaboration in service delivery in order to impact policy and social change for the benefit of Arizona infants and their families.

Upcoming Training and Events Sponsored by ITMHCA

The Role of the Primary Caregiver(s) in How Infant/Toddlers Experience Trauma: "Risk Factor" or "Protective Factor?"

Presented by Lorenzo Azzi, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist

Friday, September 29, 2023 | 9:00AM – Noon | Tempe Library

This presentation will offer a brief overview of early childhood trauma and attachment relationships. The presentation will then explore the ways in which even well-intentioned caregivers can serve as a "risk factor," amplifying the traumatic experiences of young children or a "protective factor," insulating young children from the negative impact of trauma. This training will address competencies required for ITMHCA Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship Focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health.

The cost is $50 for members and $65 for non-members. Register here

Trauma-Informed Clinical Work with Traumatized Infants/Toddlers: Engaging Caregivers in Becoming Protective Factors and Healing Agents

Presented by Lorenzo Azzi, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist

Friday, September 29, 2023 | 1:00PM – 4:00PM | Tempe Library

As discussed in the morning training, caregivers can serve as either "risk factors" or "protective factors" for traumatized young children. This presentation is designed to further explore how trauma-informed professionals can further empower the "attachment figures" of traumatized infants/toddlers to serve as both "protective factors" as well as "healing agents" for young children. This training will provide participants with effective strategies to support young children in developing a sense of self based on the intersection between power and privilege while giving meaning to their experiences and stories they carry. This training will address competencies required for ITMHCA Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship Focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health.

The cost is $50 for members and $65 for non-members. Register here

How Children Move Matters: Promoting Healthy Relationships During Placement Transitions in Child Welfare

Presented by Monica T. McDonough, LMSW, IMH-E® and Lorna Sedillos, LCSW, IMH-E®

Friday, October 13, 2023 |

Valley of the Sun United Way | 3200 East Camelback Road, Suite 375, Phoenix

Each time a child moves, whether it be a removal from an unsafe situation or a move from one place to another, it has an impact on the child's sense of belonging, sense of self and can be a source of trauma. No matter the age or developmental stage of the child, the move is experienced as a separation or loss. In this presentation we will learn how to incorporate the child's perspective, including cultural influences, when there is a move. We will discuss options for planned andemergency transitions as well as the importance of post placement connections.

This training is FREE and will be a hybrid training with the in-person portion being located at Valley of the Sun United Way, 3200 East Camelback Road, Suite 375, Phoenix, and the online portion being done through Zoom.

In-person space is limited! Register here to attend in-person. Register here to attend virtually.

ITMHCA Endorsement® for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Based Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health

Endorsement® for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health is an internationally recognized credential that supports and recognizes the development and proficiency of professionals who work with or on behalf of pregnant women, infants and young children, birth up to 3-years old, and their families. The ITMHCA Infant Mental Health Endorsement® (IMH-E®) is based on a set of competencies designed to support and enhance culturally-sensitive, relationship focused practice within the framework of infant mental health. An Endorsement® applicant demonstrates acquisition of these competencies through education, work, specialized training, and reflective supervision experiences.

Working with our youngest citizens requires specialized training and experience, and IMH-E® ensures professionals have attained a certain level of expertise with 0 to 3 year-olds and their families. IMH-E® is relevant for professionals across disciplines including early care and education, prevention and early intervention, home visitation, medicine, child welfare, mental health, policy, academia, and others.

Endorsement® is available across five different practice specialties spanning the continuum of care. Individuals apply for the Endorsement® category that best matches their scope of practice.

  • Infant Mental Health Endorsement®
  • Infant Family Associate: Promotion
  • Infant Family Specialist: Prevention/Intervention
  • Infant Family Reflective Supervisor: Prevention/Early Intervention AND Reflective Supervision
  • Infant Mental Health Specialist: Clinical Intervention/Treatment
  • Infant Mental Health Mentor: Leadership

ITMHCA gratefully acknowledges support from the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation for the creation of the Endorsement® materials, and from the Lodestar Foundation to initially fund Arizona implementation.

ITMHCA is a member of the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health. The Alliance includes infant mental health associations who offer the Endorsement® credential. The Alliance consists of 33 states/provinces (as of July 2020) and growing. See the members of the Alliance here.

ITMHCA Endorsement® decisions are not made on the basis of race, sex, age, religion, color, national origin, marital status, physical handicap, sexual orientation or any other basis prohibited by state or federal law.

Scope of Work Flow Chart

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E.A.R. Day Event for Deaf and hard-of-Hearing children, their parents, and friends!

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The Birth to Five Helpline is a free resource for any caregiver, childcare provider or professional in Arizona with questions or concerns about a young child (pregnancy to 5 years of age). No problem is too big or too small for the Helpline early childhood specialists answering the calls. Call for yourself or together with a family you support to get the personalized recommendations our Helpline specialists can provide callers when dialing (877)-705-KIDS (5437). Bilingual, knowledgeable, and compassionate specialists are available Monday through Friday, from 8am to 8pm, for support, information, and resources. We also invite you to download the free app in the Apple App Store or on Google Play so you have the option of texting or emailing your questions as well.