NCAST Programs - Promoting Nurturing Environments for Young Children


Dr. Kathryn E. Barnard, UW School of Nursing professor emeritus  and eponymous founder of the school's Barnard Center for Infant Mental Health and Development, died Saturday, June 27th. She was 77.


Barnard was an internationally recognized pioneer in the field of infant mental health, which studies the social and emotional development of children during the first five years of life. She was a renowned researcher, teacher and innovator. She also served on the Board of Directors of the ZERO TO THREE National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families and as a board member of the World Association of Infant Mental Health. 


"Dr. Barnard was a visionary nurse scientist who believed deeply that every child not only has the right to early nurturing relationships, but also that those relationships are the foundation for life-long healthy development," said Azita Emami, dean of the UW School of Nursing. "This belief inspired her landmark research and compelled her to provide tools and professional development to infant and early childhood mental-health practitioners so that every child could experience the best possible start." 


Barnard was born in 1938 in Omaha, Nebraska, the only child of a Union Pacific Railroad worker and homemaker. She wanted to be a nurse since the first grade. In 1954, she got her first nursing job at Douglas County Hospital in Nebraska. She graduated from the University of Nebraska with her bachelor's of science in nursing in 1960. After earning her master's degree at Boston University, she was recruited in 1963 to the University of Washington, where she stayed until her retirement in 2006.  


In the 1970's, when Barnard began her studies of infants and their parents, there was minimal appreciation for the connections between the earliest communication, touch, brain growth and the ways in which humans develop the social, emotional and behavioral capacities to self-regulate, connect with others and experience the world as a safe and predictable place.  . . . . . more  


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