NCAST Programs

In the late 1960's, researchers began to investigate how to identify children at risk for failure to thrive, abuse or neglect. In 1971, Dr. Kathryn Barnard, Professor Emeritus in the Department 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.

Methods that Dr. Barnard developed, widely known as the NCAST Feeding and Teaching Scales, were initially taught in 1979 in a series of eight classes via satellite in the U.S.A. During those sessions, over 600 nurses received training in the use of a series of tools for assessing parent-child interactions. After the satellite experiment ended, NCAST (Nursing Child Assessment Satellite Training), under the direction of Georgina Sumner, then Director Emeritus, 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 own communities to teach others in the use of the scales. In the 1980's NCAST became a self-sustaining organization at the University of Washington that reached beyond traditional academic or continuing education programs to advance knowledge around the world for the benefit of families and children.

In 2009, Dr. Monica Oxford, research associate professor at the Department of Family and Child Nursing at the University of Washington, became the new Director of NCAST Programs. NCAST Programs now represents the work of faculty from the Department of Family-Child Nursing and the Center for Human Development and Disability and continues to develop dynamic educational programs which combine research and practice with various teaching strategies to assist professionals working with infants, young children and families.

Staff Bios