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Graduate School of Professional Psychology
Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health

Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health

Supporting the healthy psychological development of the youngest among our underserved populations

Psychologists are continuing to learn more about the importance of mental health during pregnancy and in early childhood and the related need for high quality services for caregivers and young children ages birth to five. Pregnant families face increased stressors and mental health needs all while preparing for a transition into parenting or adding to their family. Children under five engage in critical and fast-paced brain development while learning to establish secure relationships, exploring their environment, and experiencing a wide range of emotions. Deprivation or trauma during pregnancy and in early childhood can have serious and long-term effects. Timely intervention and treatment by trained specialists is critical in promoting healthy psychological development.

While the need is understood, the demand is far from being met. Across the state, children and families, especially those in underserved populations, await critical mental health screenings, assessment, and treatment. There is also insufficient training for early education providers, and few health providers are specially trained in this area.

The Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health specialty addresses this growing need by significantly increasing the number of graduates trained to provide the highest quality of service to the pregnant and 0-5-year-old populations, generating new applied knowledge in this area, and supporting interdisciplinary partnerships that promote health for young children and their caregivers.

We support the healthy psychological development of the youngest among our underserved populations by creating a world in which:

    • Expecting caregivers receive support and care during their pregnancies and throughout their transitions into parenthood.
    • Children in the critical 0-5 age range have the best possible chance to lead healthy lives and have bright futures, thanks in part to interventions and projects designed for families and communities.
    • Children and families receive more effective treatment through mental health screenings that identify issues early.
    • Expert clinical providers are readily available to meet the need for high quality assessment and intervention services.

Meet our Faculty Director:

  • Tracy Moran Vozar

    Tracy Moran Vozar

    Director, Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health Specialty
    Clinical Assistant Professor
    PhD, University of Iowa, 2008
    Tracy.Vozar@du.edu
    Office Phone: 303-871-3736
    Ammi Hyde Building: Office 122
    LEARN MORE ABOUT DR. VOZAR

    Areas of Specialization

    Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health; Perinatal Mental Health; relationship-based approaches to assessment and treatment; mindfulness-based interventions; parenting self-efficacy; relationship-based family and staff support in the NICU

    Publication Areas

    measure validation in infant and perinatal mental health; parenting self-efficacy; cultural and contextual considerations in applications of mental health treatment approaches; social and emotional development in infancy; psychosocial predictors of pediatric healthcare use

    Professional Activities

    World Association of Infant Mental Health (WAIMH); Zero to Three (ZTT); Postpartum Support International (PSI)