Postgraduate Certificate

Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

Gain the knowledge and skills needed to effectively work with children with social, emotional and/or developmental concerns, along with their families, with a two-year certificate program specially designed for mental health providers.


Education that Drives Your Career Forward

If you’re a post-master’s mental health practitioner who wants to take your career further and incorporate new skills into your current position, Cal State East Bay’s Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Postgraduate Certificate program will prepare you to effectively provide mental health services to children between the ages of birth-five and their families.

You can look forward to receiving the training you need to respond to the cultural, racial, ethnic and socio-economic diversity of the children and families in Alameda County and beyond.

Best in the West

Selected as a "Best in the West" college by The Princeton Review

Early Childhood Education Endorsement

Meet requirements for endorsement in CA with program curriculum aligned with the CA Training Guidelines and Personnel Competencies for Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health.

Faculty Excellence

Taught by expert scholar-practitioners in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health.

Make an Impact on Childhood Mental Health

The field of early childhood mental health is a broad-based, interdisciplinary field of study, research, and practice that focuses on the social and emotional development and well-being of infants and young children (birth-five) within the context of their early relationships, family, community, and culture.

You can look forward to serving a growing population and making a positive impact on early childhood mental health. In Alameda County alone, 27 percent of children and youth who received mental health services within the last year were between the ages of birth to eight (Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services).

Why Early Childhood Mental Health?

Early childhood mental health services emphasize the importance of early caregiving relationships on brain development, attachment, and the regulations of emotions and behavior. In fact, according to the organization Zero to Three, research and clinical experience demonstrate that the earliest relationships and experiences a child has with parents and other caregivers dramatically influences brain development, social-emotional and cognitive skills, and future health and success in school and life.

Occupational Trends

Job Demand

Employment of mental health therapists is projected to grow 23 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected due to the increasing use of integrated care and the demand for mental health and substance abuse counseling.
— Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, May 2017.

Earnings Potential

Annual mean wage of mental health clinician in the San Francisco Bay Area is $60,320.
— Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, May 2017.

Take Your Career Further

As a mental health practitioner, earning your certificate in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health means you’ll be prepared for a variety of professional roles, including entry and mid-level mental health counselor/therapist positions in community-based and county-operated early childhood mental health programs.

Whether you’re pursuing your next career or enhancing your current one, Cal State East Bay’s Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Postgraduate Certificate program provides you with the knowledge and skills to take your abilities to the next level by expanding your reach in the Bay Area.

Program Objectives

By successfully completing the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Postgraduate Certificate program, you’ll have the skills to:

Apply theory to every day practice with children birth-five and their families, including family engagement, child assessment and parent-child intervention.

Respond to the cultural, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity of the children and families in Alameda County.

Address knowledge and skills needed to work with the disability community.

Increase your understanding of family driven practice and ability to partner with parents/caregivers as an integral part of early childhood mental health service delivery.

Program Format

The Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Postgraduate Certificate program is a two year in-class program that is composed of sequential courses. Classes are held at our Oakland Center on both Saturdays and weekday evenings for a total of seven meetings per semester.

The basic format includes lecture, discussion, reflective learning exercises, video, podcasts, readings, and reading responses.

Year one focuses on the Developmental Foundations of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health with an emphasis on theory.

Year two focuses on the Developmental Foundations of Relationship Based Clinical Work with Infants, Young Children, Families, and Caregivers with an emphasis on the application of theory to practice.

Throughout the program, you’ll learn best practices and sound research information on early development, relationship based intervention approaches, risk and resiliency factors, cultural and linguistic responsiveness, and trauma informed care. The curriculum has a strong emphasis on working with families from diverse cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. This is especially important as Alameda County is exceptionally diverse in terms of socioeconomic status, race, culture, ethnicity, and immigration experiences. The emphasis on diversity will include addressing knowledge and skills needed to work with the disability community – with children and parents with disabilities and their families.

The program will also emphasize family-driven care and partnership with parents as part of service delivery.

Certificate Requirements

To earn your Postgraduate Certificate in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, you are required to attend the full two years of the program.

Course Schedule

View the latest course schedules here.

Required Courses

Year 1
Theoretical Foundations of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health I: Historical Roots, Developmental Process and Core Concepts of Early Development
Theoretical Foundations of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health II: The Impact of Culture and Diversity on Development in a Relational Context

Year 2
Theory to Practice: Clinical Assessment and Treatment with Young Children and Parents/Caregivers
Understanding Resiliency, Risk and Protective Factors with Special Populations: Promotion, Prevention and Treatment

Featured Faculty

Valerie Bellas


Communities of learning hold deep transformative power for our world. Together we bounce ideas across the spaces between us creating them anew. We hold memory, while we defy history. We notice and nurture the call and response of babies and caregivers among us and within us.

Dr. Valerie Bellas believes that a baby and a caregiver, in the context of culture, occupy the most essential space of our experience, one of connection, reflection, and hope.

A clinical supervisor at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, Oakland, Services to Enhance Early Development (SEED), Dr. Bellas trained at the Child Witness to Violence Project and Tulane University Infant Team. She has a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Clark University and a Masters in Education from Hunter College.

Dr. Bellas is rostered in Child-Parent Psychotherapy and completing Reflective Facilitators-in-Training (Harris).

Dr. Bellas has a special interest in the development of social justice approaches in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health.

Deborrah Bremond


The development and sustenance of ongoing relationships are central to our growth and maturation along the developmental continuum. Relationships hold the potential to increase understanding of self, each other, and our world.

Dr. Deborrah Bremond has worked in the field of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health for over 30 years. Her love of the field commenced as an intern at UCSF’s Infant Parent Program in 1985. She has a broad range of experience conceptualizing, developing, and implementing integrated service delivery models for families with young children birth to age eight.

She has worked to integrate the importance of early social and emotional development into pre-school special education sites, neonatal follow-up programs, primary pediatric care settings, and community-based organizations serving families and young children.

Dr. Bremond received her doctorate from the Wright Institute in Clinical Psychology in 1992 and a Masters in Public Health from U.C. Berkeley in Maternal and Child Health in 1999.

Jei Watkins


As children, fearless curiosity, delight in novelty, and a biological need for intimacy guide our play and concurrent discovery of the world at our very fingertips. Through lived experience, our dreams are birthed, values shaped, and convictions made clear. Continuing to reach and grow from an integration of these—our innocent quest for fun and fulfillment, and our commitment to standing in the truth of who we are and what we believe—with knowledge, skill, humility, wisdom, and hearts to serve, we are positioned to impact the world beyond our most splendid imaginings and restore it to a place where resiliency, limitlessness, joy, and freedom abound.

Bay Area native Dr. Jei Watkins has trained and served in preschool and clinical settings meeting the needs of young children and their caregivers for nearly 15 years. A committed lifelong learner, she deeply appreciates pedagogy that acknowledges and nurtures the symbiotic relationship between teacher and student, accommodates diverse learning styles, and prioritizes critical thinking.

Guided by fundamental principles including humility, self as the therapeutic tool, and collaboration as a vehicle for empowerment and sustainable change, Dr. Watkins’ relationship-oriented clinical practice emphasizes cultural congruence and intersectionality in case conceptualization and treatment-planning to support clients holistically.

Dr. Watkins is a proud graduate of John F. Kennedy University’s Doctor of Clinical Psychology program and long-standing affiliate of the Association of Black Psychologists.

 Swipe left or right for the next/previous instructor
Valerie Bellas

Valerie BellasPhD

Deborrah Bremond

Deborrah BremondPhD, MPH

Jei Watkins

Jei WatkinsPsyD

Admission Requirements

To be admitted to the program, you must:

  • Possess a master's degree in social work, counseling, or psychology.
  • Commit to complete the full two year program. A signed non-binding letter of commitment will be required.
  • Provide a letter of support from a mental health agency supervisor that includes confirmation that the student is receiving supervision on a regular basis, and frequency and duration of supervision.
  • Be committed to serving a culturally and linguistically diverse population, as well as serving the disability community.
  • Be committed to incorporating family driven care principles and practices into theory and application of early childhood mental health.
  • For Alameda County subsidized students: be currently employed in a mental health service delivery program in Alameda County that includes services to children birth-five and their families.

How to Apply

Admission is closed for the 2019-2021 cohort.

Still have questions? Visit the support center for more information. »

Common Questions

Can I attend part of the program, for example just the second year?
No, students will be required to attend both years and must sign a non-binding letter of commitment that stipulates completion of program.

I am almost done with my master’s degree –  can I enroll?
You may enroll if you have completed your degree prior to the start of program and you are already employed in a mental health agency that serves young children.

Is there any flexibility with the subsidy?
No, subsidy rates have been established and there is no flexibility.

Are all materials included in the student fee?
Yes, all materials are included.

I am very interested in the program but do not work in Alameda County.  Am I eligible to apply and will the subsidy apply to me?
Enrollment is open to all qualified students, however, subsidies are for Alameda County participants only.

How do I learn more about the California Training Guidelines and Personnel Competencies for Infant, Family and Early Childhood Mental Health?
You can visit:

How do I learn more about infant and early childhood mental health?
You can visit:

How do I learn more about family-driven care?
You can visit the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health website at:

Will CEUs be provided?
Yes, this course meets the qualifications for ­60 hours of continuing education credit for the total two year program for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs, and/or LEPs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences; Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services (ACBHCS) is approved by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists to sponsor continuing education for the target audience of this course, Provider No 65749; and for Psychologists as an approved provider by the California Psychological Association, Provider No: ALA006. ACBHCS maintains responsibility for this program/course and its content. Please note: in order to receive CE credit, you must complete the full course. No partial credit can be given.


Is financial aid available for this program?
The student fee is $5,500 per year. Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services is subsidizing student fees in each year to those who are currently employed by an Alameda County mental health agency and who meet all the other requirements that are listed in the admission requirements section. Year one is a 60% subsidy or $2,200, and Year two is a 70% subsidy or $1,650.

Student costs minus the subsidy:
Year One: $2,200
Year Two: $1,650

Traditional Financial Aid (such as completing the FAFSA, Pell Grants, etc.) is not applicable for certificate programs, but there may be other suitable options to help you in financing your program. Learn more about other financial aid options.

Accessibility Services

Does the university provide accessibility services?
Yes, our Accessibility Services department provides academic accommodations and support services to address the individual needs of students with differing abilities, permanent disabilities or temporary disabling conditions. For more information, including program details and contact information, visit

Search Results

At Cal State East Bay, we pride ourselves on putting students first, from the moment you inquire until you graduate. We hope you've found answers to your questions in this support center, but if not, please get in touch.

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At a Glance

Area of study: Postgraduate Certificate in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

Ideal for: Post-master’s mental health practitioners wishing to specialize in infant and early childhood mental health.

Program format: In-class

Program length: 2 years (4 semesters)

Number of courses: 4

Tuition cost: $2,750 per course with subsidies for Alameda County students (Tuition fees are subject to change at any time.)


Please let us know if we can answer any questions about the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health program. Many answers can also be found in our online Support Center.

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