Infant Mental Health & Children’s Rights with Dr. Sherri Alderman

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by Rafael Otto

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03.10.2022

On the latest Early Link Podcast, host Rafael Otto speaks with Dr. Sherri Alderman, a developmental behavioral pediatrician. Dr. Alderman is faculty at Portland State University with decades of experience advocating for child rights, working clinically and on policy in infant mental health.

Guest:

Dr. Alderman attended the University of Wisconsin medical school, and completed her pediatric residency and Master of Public Health at the University of New Mexico. She is Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Early Childhood, the AAP Early Childhood Champion in Oregon, CDC Act Early Ambassador to Oregon. She also serves on the Oregon state government advisory council to the Oregon Health Authority Behavioral Health Division and is the former President of the Oregon Infant Mental Health Association.
 

Summary:

In this episode, we hear Dr. Alderman’s perspective on her work in the field of infant mental health, and its implications for young children and their families, and she discusses what the system can do to create supportive policies. She also discusses her advocacy work for children’s rights. In particular, the background, framework, and core principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Since the CRC has not been ratified in the United States, Dr. Alderman notes the sources where some of the push-back on this policy may originate, and how the CRC has ultimately helped children in other countries (and could help in Oregon) after ratification. Dr. Alderman also tells story about how she helped young children get involved in an election while living in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Transcript

[00:00:00] Rafael Otto: This is the Early Link Podcast. I’m Rafael Otto. Thank you for listening. You can catch us on 99.1 FM in the Portland Metro on Sundays at 4:30 PM or tune in at your convenience wherever you find your podcasts. That includes iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music, and on our website at childinst.org.

My guest today is Sherri Alderman. She is a developmental behavioral pediatrician, and is faculty at Portland State University with decades of experience advocating for child rights and deep experience working clinically and on policy in infant mental health. She is Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Early Childhood, the AAP Early Childhood Champion in Oregon, the CDC Act Early Ambassador to Oregon. Sherri serves on the Oregon State government advisory council to the Oregon Health Authority Behavioral Health Division, and is Past President of the Oregon Infant Mental Health Association.

That’s a lot. You must be very busy Sherri, and it’s great to have you on the podcast today.

How are you?

[00:01:06] Sherri Alderman: I’m fine thanks. Thank you so much for having me. I should say that I’m not speaking, as a representative of the AAP. I am actually speaking as, as an individual. So I do have a private life as well.

[00:01:21] Rafael Otto: Absolutely. Great. Thank you for that clarification. I wanted to talk about the field of infant mental health a little bit you know, from your perspective as a physician, as a pediatrician, what does that field look like? What does it entail and what does that mean for your work with young children and their families?

[00:01:41] Sherri Alderman: Well, that’s a great question and my work has very much focused on infant mental health, both in the clinical practice of framework and also in advocacy. It really stems from two basic things I would say. One is that we all are really beginning to so appreciate the research that informs us how critically important those first few years are for healthy brain development.

It’s a fabulous opportunity to set into motion an infant, a baby, or a young child on a path toward being academically successful, being a contributor to society and living a life of fulfillment. Yet at the same time, our system often forgets the babies. And so in infant mental health, we talk about keeping the baby in mind.

Please download the full transcript below.

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