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

Parent-Child Relationship Programs has a long and rich history in the Infant Mental Health field. There are hundreds of studies validating the work of our founder, Dr. Kathryn Barnard. In 1971, Dr. Kathryn Barnard, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor of Family and Child Nursing at the University of Washington, initiated research that brought the ecology of early child development closer to the level of clinical practice by developing methods for assessing behaviors of children and parents.

She identified environmental factors that are critical to a child’s well-being and demonstrated the importance of parent-child interaction as a predictor of later cognitive and language development. Dr. Barnard was incredibly foresightful. These assessment tools, widely known as the NCAST Feeding and Teaching Parent-Child Interaction scales, were initially taught in 1979 to over 600 nurses in a series of eight classes via satellite in the United States. After the satellite training experiment ended, NCAST (Nursing Child Assessment Satellite Training), under the direction of Georgina Sumner, started offering a Certified Instructor Workshop in Seattle. These professionals gained reliability in the use of the Feeding and Teaching Scales and after obtaining certification as an NCAST Local Instructor went back to their communities to teach others in how to become astute observers of parent-child interaction using the scales.

To give professionals, parents and other caregivers the knowledge and skills to provide nurturing environments for young children by developing and disseminating innovative evidence-based and research-based products and training programs used in many disciplines and settings.