Update #3: Focus groups meeting notes

Update: Oct. 5, 2016

Re-envisioning update #3: Focus groups meeting notes

Thank you to all who were able to provide input and attended our recent focus group meetings. We had a good turnout and a lot of thoughtful discussion about the future of the Barnard Center and the Infant Mental Health Certificate Program.

As a reminder, the purpose of these sessions was to provide information about the decision to pause Barnard Center operations, as well as the plan and related timeline for re-envisioning the center going forward. We requested input as follows:

  • What current federal and state initiatives are most critical for the Barnard Center to be aware of and actively participate in?
  • What partnerships (both on-campus and off) might be most valuable to the center’s sustainability?
  • What combination of research, education, advocacy, community education and/or data dissemination is the best fit for the center going forward?
  • What is the best mix of credit and non-credit courses, tracks or programs that will have the most value to IMH practitioners and how would that be best delivered to provide maximum access and utility to all interested parties?

Below is a summary of the suggestions made by the participants attending at least one session. Not all suggestions are representative of a consensus of the participants in a particular session, but all were suggested by more than one person, sometimes across sessions:

  • One way to build and sustain a solid financial footing might be to combine NCAST and Barnard Center into one entity.
    • This combined entity might take on training courses (in addition to an academic offering, such as a certificate). It was represented that these courses should be offered ‘a la carte’ and be non-credit (offering continuing education units only).
  • A two director model, one who oversees research and academic issues, and one who oversees outreach and policy, might work well.
    • The next leaders should have deep expertise in infant mental health and a first-hand understanding of the infant mental health field.
  • The Center on Human Development and Disability (CHDD) should be involved in the Barnard Center and Infant Mental Health Certificate reenvisioning efforts.
  • The Harris Foundation should be consulted to get input on who the best external evaluator would be for the certificate.
  • Clinical training is important to reinstate in some form.
  • Continued alignment with Washington State endorsements is critical.
  • Partnerships with other UW schools, such as Social Work, Education and/or Psychology, were strongly recommended to build visibility of the academic programs and increase enrollments and influence in the industry. These partnerships could also provide benchmarking and best practices for successful centers.
  • Partnership of UW faculty to deliver World Association for Infant Mental Health (WAIMH) courses was also suggested for a path to providing broad training across many infant mental health stakeholder organizations/practitioners/employers and interested individuals.
  • Offering a three-year master’s degree, which included clinical practicum, was strongly endorsed. This was also suggested as a way to expand student enrollments outside of Washington State. Some participants also talked about a mix of academic offerings, including a master’s degree, a graduate certificate, a fellowship and non-credit courses.
    • Courses should include information on policy and government relations, in addition to theory and practice. • Online courses with a clinical component were also endorsed as practical and a good solution for expanded national delivery.
  • Partnerships with the infant mental health organizations, such as Zero To Three and WAIMH, should be expanded.

Next steps

Advisory board: We are in the process of re-establishing the Barnard Center advisory board. This board’s first and most pressing objectives will be addressing the center’s financial stability, developing partnerships between the Barnard Center and key stakeholders in the Infant Mental Health community, and supporting the Barnard Center’s policy and advocacy priorities.

Graduate certificate: A scope of work for the external evaluation of the Infant Mental Health Certificate is in development. We will begin formal recruiting for a consultant to lead the evaluation once the scope of work has been finalized. We’ve reached out to the Harris Foundation to explore a potential partnership for this work.

This consultant would, in coordination with the infant mental health community, analyize the strengths and weaknesses of the current curriculum and lead a benchmarking study to review other infant mental health program offerings in various formats available across the country. The result of the study would help inform the best course of action to address the program’s structure and to enhance its sustainability. It will also inform strategies for re-envisioning the curriculum that would meet the market’s expectation and attract highly qualified applicants.