Welcome to the Barnard Center for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

The mission of the Barnard Center for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health is to promote interdisciplinary research and training related to infant and early childhood mental health. During the first five years, as children learn to experience, express and regulate emotions, form close relationships, and explore and learn from the environment, we say they are thriving according to the principles of infant and early childhood mental health.

Dr. Kathryn Barnard, PhD, FAAN

The Barnard Center embodies the vision of the late Kathryn E. Barnard, PhD, FAAN. Barnard was an international pioneer in the field of infant mental health. Barnard founded the Center on Infant Mental Health and Development in collaboration with the University of Washington School of Nursing and the Center on Human Development and Disability as a multidisciplinary resource for research and training. The center was renamed in her honor in 2012.

With the support of generous donors, the Barnard Center opened in 2001 with a five-year plan to increase the number of professionals trained to provide therapeutic support for parents and infants in the state of Washington. From 2001 to 2006, the Barnard Center trained 38 Seattle-area professionals, giving a significant boost to the field. A redesigned graduate certificate program started in 2009 graduates eight to 12 students annually until 2017. In 2020 the program underwent a redesign and will be delivered as a community professional development program called the Advanced Clinical Training (ACT). This program is led by Dr. Nucha Isarowong and will launch in March of 2021. 

In addition to the Barnard Center, Dr. Kathryn Barnard also founded the Parent-Child Relationship Programs (PCRP) at the Barnard Center (formerly known as NCAST Programs). PCRP is the development and dissemination unit at the Barnard Center. Our mission is to provide the tools and training necessary to support professionals in their work of supporting parents with young children. PCRP was founded in 1976 and continues to train 1000’s of professionals across the globe each year.

The Barnard Center for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health supports the professional development of interdisciplinary infant and early childhood practitioners and conducts research related to infant and early childhood mental health. It consists of three divisions:

  • Research: The center has secured over 20 million dollars of funding from the National Institutes of Health in research funding in the past 10 years. One of the primary aims of our recent research is to conduct randomized clinical trials on home visiting programs to test their effectiveness in diverse populations of caregivers and children.
  • Dissemination: Parent-Child Relationship Programs @ the Barnard Center is now formally part of the Barnard Center and operates as the center’s dissemination arm.
  • Workforce development: As the go-to resource for workforce development and training, the center serves those professionals who work with families every day and provide services to support the care and well-being of young children.

Monica Oxford, MSW, PhD

Dr. Oxford is a Research Professor in Child, Family, and Population Health Nursing at the University of Washington and the Executive Director of the Barnard Center for Infant Mental Health and Development. Her research focuses on early parenting and child developmental outcomes for vulnerable families living in challenging environments. Dr. Oxford’s interest is in how context, parenting, and child characteristics combine to inform particular patterns of child outcomes and how intervention services promote both caregiver and child well-being. Dr. Oxford is also involved in training social service providers throughout Washington on infant mental health, strengths-based practice, and how providers can support caregiver-child dyadic interaction from an attachment-based perspective.

Dr. Oxford is principal investigator of four NIH grants; the first three are aimed at examining the impact of Promoting First Relationships® (PFR: Kelly et al, 2008). PFR is a brief 10-week home visiting program that is strengths and relationship-based video feedback program. These three studies are randomized control trials in three populations: one RCT for parents involved with child protective services, one RCT for reunified birth families, and one RCT for American Indian families in a rural setting. The fourth NIH grant is aimed at addressing the interaction between family, school, child, and contextual risk such as poverty and early child developmental outcomes Dr. Oxford is also co-principal investigator on three NIH funded RCT testing the effectiveness of PFR in three additional populations (foster care, perinatal mental health setting, and American Indian rural setting).

Sue Spieker, PhD

I began my career at UW as a postdoctoral fellow with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Network on the Transition from Infancy to Early Childhood. My scholarship has been focused on the development of infants and young children under conditions of adversity, and on refining and testing prevention and intervention programs to promote nurturing parent-child relationships in families experiencing adversity and/or coping with a child’s atypical development. My research experience spans projects on infant child care and attachment, adolescent childbearing and child and family development, and randomized trials on prevention and intervention in Early Head Start and child welfare. I have been an investigator or principal investigator on over twenty federal grants, three of them focused on Promoting First Relationship®. My current major study, funded by the National Institute for Child Health and Development, is Collaborative Perinatal Mental Health and Parenting Support in Primary Care, 2015-2020, is a randomized control trial studying the effectiveness of adding Promoting First Relationship® to perinatal mental health treatment for low income English and Spanish-speaking mothers.

Education

  • PhD, Cornell University, 1982

 

What classes do you teach?

  • NSG 432        Infants and Young Children: Risk and resilience
  • NSG 537        Development and Psychopathology: Parents & Infants
  • NURS548       Frameworks in Infant Mental Health
  • NURS 569      Reflective Practice, Consultation and Supervision

Cathryn Booth-LaForce, PhD

Cathryn Booth-LaForce, PhD, is a developmental scientist and Professor in the department of Child, Family, and Population Health Nursing at the University of Washington. Her research focuses on the social-emotional development of children, primarily from the perspective of attachment theory. In longitudinal projects spanning infancy to late adolescence, she investigates early experiences in various contexts to examine their current and ongoing impact on development and adaptive (or maladaptive) outcomes. Her areas of expertise include caregiver-child relationships, parenting, peer relationships, and friendships, as well as early preventive intervention programs for children and families at risk.

As Dr. Kathryn Barnard’s first postdoctoral fellow, she contributed to the development of the NCATS Teaching and Feeding Scales. Under Dr. Barnard’s mentorship, she engaged in early intervention research from the beginning of her career, and that focus continues today. Using randomized controlled trials, she and her colleagues from the Barnard Center (Oxford) and WSU (Buchwald) are working with Native communities to test the impact of the Promoting First Relationships preventive intervention program for reservation-based toddlers and their caregivers.

My Bibliography:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/cathryn.booth-laforce.1/bibliography/public/?sortby=pubDate&sdirection=descending

Jonika Hash, PhD, RN

Dr. Hash is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Child, Family, and Population Health Nursing. Her research interest includes sleep health and sleep health equity in families with young children. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Washington, PhD in Nursing Science from the University of Washington, and T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship in Omics and Symptom Science at the University of Washington. She has a clinical background in emergency room nursing. Dr. Hash’s research interest includes sleep health and sleep health equity in families with young children. Her dissertation examined early childhood sleep problems, social emotional development, and the impact of a strengths-based, infant mental health program on early childhood sleep problems within the context of adversity. Dr. Hash’s postdoctoral research examined sleep health knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and practices in mothers with young children, to inform tailored sleep health care. Key findings identified contextual factors linked to sleep health inequities.

Colleen O. Dillon, PhD

Colleen O. Dillon is a licensed psychologist with expertise in infant and early childhood mental health. As an Associate Teaching Professor and Faculty Lead on IECMH Training in the UW School of Nursing, Child, Family and Population Health Nursing, she teaches both graduate and undergraduate IECMH courses. Dr. Dillon's graduate degrees are in clinical psychology (child/adolescent focus) from the University of Massachusetts, Boston; her APA residency year completed in the child/community track in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the UW School of Medicine. Dr. Dillon has served as a research fellow and associate member of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Network on the Transition from Adolescence to Adulthood, a clinical postdoctoral fellow at the UW Barnard Center for Infant Mental Health and Development, a graduate of the UW Infant Mental Health Certificate Program, and a UW Maternal and Child Health Leadership, Education and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) trainee.  Her clinical and research focus over the past 20 years has been on supporting families through vulnerable lifespan transitions.   

Miriam Hirschstein, PhD

Miriam Hirschstein is a senior research scientist with the Barnard Center for Infant Mental Health and Development in Family, Child, and Population Health Nursing at the University of Washington. Her research focuses on implementation of school-based programs, children’s social-emotional development, and early relational health. She is principal investigator of a longitudinal study at Seattle Educare, one of 25 sites implementing a model of center-based early childhood education serving vulnerable children and families. She also leads an innovation grant supporting mindfulness practices in early childhood education. Dr. Hirschstein has a PhD in educational psychology and teaches in the UW School of Nursing and College of Education.

Nucha Isarowong, PhD, LCSW

Dr. Isarowong is the Director of the Advanced Clinical Training Program at the Barnard Center for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health on the campus of the University of Washington. His  clinical experience includes work with and on behalf of infants, children, and families in home and school settings. Most recently, he served as faculty at Erikson Institute in Chicago, IL, where he instructed classes in the Master of Social Work Program and the Infant Mental Health Certificate ProgramHis clinical and scholarship experience and interests address sociocultural, relational, and structural factors that influence social-relational dynamics and facilitate access to and utilization of resources and services by families caring for infants and children from the broad range of diverse communities. His current efforts focus on multi-level systems integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion principles in the context of father engagement practices and policies, integration of trauma-informed practice, generally, and in Part C Early Intervention, specifically, shifting understanding of disabilities and developmental differences, and affecting systems change. Nucha is a ZERO TO THREE Fellow (2012-2013), and currently serves on the coordinating council of the Academy of ZERO TO THREE Fellows. He also serves as a national workshop facilitator and member of the Executive Council of the Diversity-Informed Tenets for Work with Infants, Children and Families.

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Denise Findlay, BSN, RN

As the Director of Education, Denise is an enthusiastic and responsive trainer who has been teaching the NCAST Parent-Child Interaction Teaching and Feeding scales for over 30 years. She prepares, certifies, and mentors NCAST PCI Instructors throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan, and England. Denise, along with Dr. Monica Oxford, edited the new Second Edition of both the NCAST PCI Feeding (2015) & Teaching (2013) Manuals. She also assists with developing new research-based training programs and products and provides consultation and support to our Promoting Maternal Mental Health During Pregnancy trainers. Denise attended Seattle University and completed the University of Massachusetts Boston, Napa Infant Parent Mental Health fellowship program, holding a post-graduate certificate in Infant Parent Mental Health. Denise is interested in the importance of infant and toddler non-verbal cues with specific application to obesity prevention and early identification of autism. She has committed her nursing career to promoting optimal parent-child relationships, beginning during the prenatal period through three years of age. Prior to coming to the University of Washington, Denise worked with vulnerable populations as a Public Health Nurse for twenty years.

In her personal time, Denise serves on the local board of NAMI Kitsap; she enjoys spending time outdoors in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, discovering new, incredible Washington wines, traveling, and treasures every moment she can spend with family and friends.

 

Jennifer Rees, MSW

Jennifer is the program director for Promoting First Relationships’ community and distance training programs. She is responsible for curriculum and program development, assuring program fidelity, providing on-site and distance training to community agencies, facilitating reflective practice groups and managing contracts. Jennifer graduated with honors from the University of Washington with her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and later went on to obtain her Master of Social Work degree. She spent the early part of her career working with children and families as a Research Coordinator for the NICHD Study of Early Childcare and Youth Development, as well as counseling teens and their families in school settings.

Her projects with Promoting First Relationships have included training providers working in child welfare, family support, mental health, early intervention, and early childhood education. Jennifer cares deeply about supporting parents in a strengths-based way and helping them have a positive, connected relationship with their child.

Carol Good, MSW, LISCW, IMH-E­® Infant Mental Health Mentor - Clinical 

Carol has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Carroll College in Helena, MT.  She later received a Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Washington.  Her clinical practice started in 1990 working in a residential treatment facility that specialized in working with children that had disrupted attachment relationships.  In 1992 she moved to Western Washington and began working in the field of early childhood mental health.  Carol has over 27 years’ experience providing infant/early childhood mental health services in both a community mental health setting, and in early intervention services in Washington State.

Her focus of practice has consistently been assisting parents in better understanding their child’s social and emotional needs and the interplay between trauma and attachment relationships.  She has been providing supervision and training to practitioners in the field of infant/early childhood mental health since 2001 as well as providing workshops for parents of infants and toddlers.  She joined the University of Washington as a Promoting First Relationships (PFR) Master Trainer in 2014.  Since that time she has provided workshops and training on a variety of topics including PFR throughout the U.S. and abroad.  Carol enjoys dynamic conversation at her presentations and encourages all voices in the room to be heard and engaged. 

Nancy Meenen, BA

Nancy has worked in the education field for over 15 years as well as operated her own business for over 15 years. She manages the day to day operations of PCRP including: marketing and promotional projects, training workshops, the website/store, and student/client liaison. Nancy grew up in Seattle and attended the University of Washington. In her personal time she enjoys hiking, knitting, and extreme gardening.

Sample Description

Nucha Isarowong, PhD, LCSW

Dr. Isarowong is the Director of the Advanced Clinical Training Program at the Barnard Center for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health on the campus of the University of Washington. His  clinical experience includes work with and on behalf of infants, children, and families in home and school settings. Most recently, he served as faculty at Erikson Institute in Chicago, IL, where he instructed classes in the Master of Social Work Program and the Infant Mental Health Certificate ProgramHis clinical and scholarship experience and interests address sociocultural, relational, and structural factors that influence social-relational dynamics and facilitate access to and utilization of resources and services by families caring for infants and children from the broad range of diverse communities. His current efforts focus on multi-level systems integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion principles in the context of father engagement practices and policies, integration of trauma-informed practice, generally, and in Part C Early Intervention, specifically, shifting understanding of disabilities and developmental differences, and affecting systems change. Nucha is a ZERO TO THREE Fellow (2012-2013), and currently serves on the coordinating council of the Academy of ZERO TO THREE Fellows. He also serves as a national workshop facilitator and member of the Executive Council of the Diversity-Informed Tenets for Work with Infants, Children and Families.

Jennifer Rees, MSW

Jennifer is the program director for Promoting First Relationships’ community and distance training programs. She is responsible for curriculum and program development, assuring program fidelity, providing on-site and distance training to community agencies, facilitating reflective practice groups and managing contracts. Jennifer graduated with honors from the University of Washington with her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and later went on to obtain her Master of Social Work degree. She spent the early part of her career working with children and families as a Research Coordinator for the NICHD Study of Early Childcare and Youth Development, as well as counseling teens and their families in school settings.

Her projects with Promoting First Relationships have included training providers working in child welfare, family support, mental health, early intervention, and early childhood education. Jennifer cares deeply about supporting parents in a strengths-based way and helping them have a positive, connected relationship with their child.

 Mary Jane Lohr, MS

Mary Jane Lohr is a Research Scientist in Child, Family, and Population Health Nursing and the School of Social Work at the University of Washington. She obtained her graduate degree in Educational Psychology specializing in Human Development at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1981, and began her career there working on research projects in the Women’s Studies Program and Department of Psychiatry. After moving to Seattle, Washington in 1987, she continued her career at the University of Washington in the School of Social Work, coordinating a longitudinal study of pregnant and parenting adolescents. Through this long-term study, she met Dr. Spieker who was a co-principal investigator and Dr. Oxford who was a research analyst at the time. In 2010, they invited her to join their research group at the Barnard Center in the School of Nursing. 

Ms. Lohr’s current research projects at the Barnard Center include evaluating the Promoting First Relationships® (PFR) program with new mothers who received mental health treatment during pregnancy, and another evaluation with families recently reunified after a child was placed in foster care. In addition, she is coordinating a small private grant in the School of Social Work to evaluate an educational depression treatment intervention based on Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) with mothers involved with substance abuse, through the Washington State Parent Child Assistance Program (PCAP). Ms. Lohr coordinates the day-to-day operations of the grants including recruitment, intervention, data collection, coding, data management, analyses, manuscript preparation, and human subjects and grant reporting.  Her research interests have a theme of promoting mental health and well-being among vulnerable women and their families. She has directed nine NIH research grants, including four clinical trials.

Miriam Hirschstein, PhD

Miriam Hirschstein is a senior research scientist with the Barnard Center for Infant Mental Health and Development in Family, Child, and Population Health Nursing at the University of Washington. Her research focuses on implementation of school-based programs, children’s social-emotional development, and early relational health. She is principal investigator of a longitudinal study at Seattle Educare, one of 25 sites implementing a model of center-based early childhood education serving vulnerable children and families. She also leads an innovation grant supporting mindfulness practices in early childhood education. Dr. Hirschstein has a PhD in educational psychology and teaches in the UW School of Nursing and College of Education.

Kristin Klansnic, MSW

Kristin Klansnic is a Research Coordinator for the Families Together study. Kristin has been a social worker in a variety of settings including child welfare, domestic violence shelters, and low-income family housing prior to joining the Barnard Center's research team. She is passionate about working with families in the context of reunification and prevention of foster care placement. She has a BA in French and Anthropology from the University of Colorado and a Master of Social Work from the University of Washington. 

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