Addressing Disparities in Early Care and Education through Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation

What role do we have in closing racial disparities and reducing bias as we create infant and early childhood mental health career pathways? The very first Diversity-Informed Tenet for Work with Infants, Young Children and Families is: “self-awareness leads to better services for families.” In the spirit of Tenet #1, we will come together for a conversation about a promising approach to reduce racial bias in Early Care and Education settings – Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC). In this session we will explore recent research findings and policy trends happening around the country that highlight the importance of advocating for a racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse workforce in IECMHC and how it is connected to teacher and child outcomes. We will also explore approaches from several states and communities in building, supporting, and promoting a diverse IECMHC workforce.

Eva Marie Shivers, J.D., Ph.D., is the founder and executive director of Indigo Cultural Center, a non-profit action research firm located in Phoenix, Arizona. Her work at Indigo Cultural Center focuses on the developmental niche of infant and early childhood to explore the evolution of frameworks for understanding families’ culturally adaptive responses to poverty, systemic racism, and historical marginalization. Indigo Cultural Center is part of the international Healing Justice movement, and they apply liberatory consciousness principles in their IMH racial healing work around the country.

For the past 19 years, Shivers has provided racial equity and research policy consultation to federal, state and local government agencies and administrators. Shivers and her team at Indigo are currently leading national racial equity efforts to transform the infrastructure for the IECMH workforce.

She received her Ph.D. from UCLA’s Department of Education, Psychological Studies in Education. She also holds a law degree from Howard University School of Law, and a BA in English Literature from Arizona State University.

The Early Childhood Initiative seeks to bring together scholars to address early childhood challenges and produce world-class scholarship that will help maximize the potential of all children during their early years.