About Us



Who We Are

The Iowa Association for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IAIECMH) is a committed group of professionals who understand and value the role of mental health among young children and their families, and actively strive to deliver quality services that support children’s social, emotional and behavioral development.

Our Strategic Goals:
  • Enhance the quality and capacity of Iowa’s early childhood professionals to meet the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of young children and their families
  • Increase public awareness and understanding of the need for high quality, nurturing relationships during infancy and early childhood
  • Promote comprehensive and integrated services and supports for those working together to help children achieve their full social and emotional potential



Our Mission



The IAIECMH strives to promote optimal social, emotional development of infants, young children and their families by fostering a competent workforce which values nurturing child/caregiver relationships and promotes community awareness of the importance of early childhood development.

Our Vision



All children will experience nurturing relationships and social and emotional supports to reach their full potential.

Our History



The last three decades have produced significant research linking relationships, environments and experiences in early childhood with brain development, physical health and social, emotional and behavioral wellbeing across the lifespan. This research has resulted in a paradigm shift that changes the question from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” Research findings suggest that, by supporting young children and their families, we can actually promote strong families and nurture healthy mental development.

The Iowa Association for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IAIECMH) was formed in June, 2013, by professionals in a variety of settings (mental health, education, private practice, state government, and advocacy groups). This group shares a desire to collect and disseminate information about current research, training opportunities, best practices, funding, and policies to inform the system for children's mental health. The IAIECMH serves as a hub to bring parents, practitioners, educators, and policymakers together to improve the health and wellbeing of Iowa’s children.


Board of Directors



President:  Megan Caves
515-289-1515 / megancaves@gmail.com

Past President:  Kelly Pelzel

Secretary: Lea Boldt

Treasurer:  Rhonda Rairden-Nelson

Student Representative:  Luke Huber


Family Representative:  Allison Schroeder
helloitisme@q.com

Director At-Large:  Gladys Alvarez

Director At-Large:  Stephanie McFarland
(515) 577-7286 / smcfarland@compassclinicalassociates.com

Director At-Large:  Kere Hughes-Belding
515-294-8441 / kereh@iastate.edu

Director At-Large:  Jessie Miereles
515-246-3572 / jmireles@orchardplace.org

Director At-Large:  Rhonda Rairden-Nelson
515-281-4926 / Rhonda.Rairden-Nelson@idph.iowa.gov