Caring, Coping and Competence in Working with Infants and Young Children with Special Health Care Needs

P-5 Primary Domain

Health and Development Risk and Protective Factors


Designed for IECMH and ECE Professionals

December 5-6, 2023

Data from the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) 2020-2021 National Survey of Children’s Health estimates that nearly 2.5 million children ages 0-5 have special health care needs in the United States. MCHB defines children with special health care needs (CSHCN) as:  “those who have or are at increased risk for a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally”. Not surprisingly, post-2020 preliminary data and studies continue to document an uptick in CSHCN along with increased health-related disparities across the nation, increasing the urgency for equity-centered and coordinated transdisciplinary early childhood support and services for these children and their families.  

This track will discuss the context for relationship development when a baby has special health care needs, introduce a model which helps build understanding of neurobehavioral and relationship development in CSHCN, and explore additional tools for professionals working with CSHN and their families. Together, participants and faculty will consider the application and integration of new knowledge and strategies into individual practice and scopes of work through case examples, joint ideation, identification of systems-level engagement opportunities and community-based resources, and development of action steps. 

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Apply infant mental health concepts to work with medically fragile babies, young children and families
  • Describe how medical complexity impacts baby and family development
  • Utilize aspects of the BABIES and PreSTEPS model to enhance regulation, reflection and relationships in working with babies and families
  • Explain how working with babies and young children with special health care needs necessitates using reflective practice