Re-envisioning update #5: New vision

Update: Oct. 3, 2017

Re-envisioning update #5: Permanent director and a new vision

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

It is with great pleasure that I announce Dr. Monica Oxford has been appointed the permanent director of the Barnard Center for Infant Mental Health and Development, effective Oct. 1. Dr. Oxford has served as the Center’s interim director since May 2016 and has played a key leadership role in the Center’s re-envisioning process.

Dr. Oxford stepped into this role in addition to her responsibilities as a faculty member in our Family and Child Nursing department and director of Nursing Child Assessment Training Programs (NCAST). Her deep expertise and commitment to infant mental health, as well as her dedication to extending Dr. Kathryn Barnard’s legacy made her a clear choice to lead the Barnard Center into its next phase.

Along with new leadership, I am pleased to announce other exciting developments for the Barnard Center resulting from the re-envisioning process.

Research, dissemination and workforce development

In order to encapsulate Dr. Barnard’s vision, the Barnard Center will now consist of three divisions: Research, Dissemination and Workforce development.


The Barnard Center currently includes several researchers who are making important contributions to the field. Dr. Susan Spieker is the Kathryn Barnard Endowed Professor for Infant Mental Health. Her research interest is the role of parent-infant relationships and children’s socio-emotional development within challenging environments. Her current major research focus, funded by the National Institute for Child Health and Development, is Collaborative Perinatal Mental Health and Parenting Support in Primary Care, 2015-2020, a randomized controlled trial studying the effectiveness of adding Promoting First Relationships® to perinatal mental health treatment for low income English- and Spanish-speaking mothers. Other core Barnard Center researchers include Drs. Cathryn Booth-LaForce, Colleen O. Dillon, Miriam Hirschstein and Monica Oxford. Together, in the last 10 years alone, this research team has secured more than $20 million in funding for innovative research in prevention and intervention.


Nursing Child Assessment Training Programs (NCAST) will formally merge with the Barnard Center and operate as the Center’s dissemination arm to further the mission and legacy of Kathryn Barnard’s work. NCAST will continue its mission to develop and disseminate training and program materials for community infant mental health providers. However, activities and projects will be coordinated with the other two arms of the Barnard Center, especially work force development, allowing greater synergy with NCAST’s infrastructure to advance the mission of workforce development. NCAST also will align their training offerings to enable community providers to fulfill training needs necessary for providers to receive endorsement from the Washington Association for Infant Mental Health, as well as to fill gaps in training through special offerings by national experts.

Workforce development

We see the Barnard Center being the go-to resource for workforce development and training to better serve public agencies, the courts, and other entities that want and need to base their strategies for decision making about infants and young children on scientific evidence. One such effort already underway is our partnership and collaboration with King County in the Best Start for Kids program. The publicly-funded program is “an initiative to improve the health and well-being of all King County residents by investing in promotion, prevention and early intervention for children, youth, families and communities.” It is an investment now in a better future for individuals and the community through the application of evidence-based research on optimal ways to provide early childhood healthcare and education.

Infant mental health courses

Infant mental health course work associated with the Infant Mental Health Certificate Program and practicum placement opportunities would be developed and disseminated within the UW School of Nursing Department of Family and Child Nursing. We are in the process of building interdisciplinary academic and clinical partnerships with the UW School of Social Work, UW College of Education, and the Department of Psychiatry in the UW School of Medicine. We will continue to offer individual courses on infant mental health.

Infant mental health courses would continue to be closely linked to the Barnard Center and will complement the center’s focus on research, dissemination and workforce development.

Public and private partnerships

Funding to support the activities of the center will be generated through the development of multiple revenue streams, including philanthropy and federal support. The School of Nursing will support the activities necessary to secure funding. The Barnard Center has been identified as a fundraising priority in our ongoing capital campaign. Once funding is secured, work plans for center initiatives will be developed with a specific timeline and responsibilities.

We are in the process of re-establishing an advisory committee of professionals and community members to help ensure the center activities and academic offerings are in alignment with projected educational and workforce needs. More information will follow later this year.

Partnerships with community county and state agencies will be sought to facilitate student clinical placements, education, and training in infant mental health.

Read the new vision

Thank you to everyone who participated in the re-envisioning process. I truly appreciate your willingness to  share your candid feedback and expertise to help us ensure we honor and extend Dr. Barnard’s legacy and vision.

Azita Emami, PhD, MSN, BSN, RN, FAAN
Robert G. and Jean A. Reid Executive Dean
UW School of Nursing

Learn more

Read more about the Barnard Center’s new vision and access the self study of the Barnard Center and Infant Mental Health Certificate Program produced as part of the year-long re-envisioning process.