The RAINE Group is a think (and do) tank dedicated to the advancement of early childhood mental health consultation (ECMHC) practice, policy and research. It is operated and sponsored by the early childhood nonprofit, Southwest Human Development, in Phoenix, Arizona and is comprised of nationally recognized experts from around the country. The group has many decades of combined experience developing ECMHC programs, evaluating their effectiveness, contributing to the theoretical and practical knowledge base of this specialty through research, writing and presentations and providing technical assistance to programs, communities and states on how best to deliver consultation services, train staff and sustain consultation efforts fiscally.
Alison Steier, PhD is a clinical psychologist and vice president of Mental Health Services at the early childhood nonprofit, Southwest Human Development, in Phoenix, Arizona. She is director of Southwest’s Harris Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Training Institute, the statewide toll-free Birth to Five Helpline and its “Fussy Baby” home visiting service as well as Arizona’s system of early childhood mental health consultation, known as Smart Support. Her work currently focuses on early childhood mental health program development and professional development. She is the founder and co-chair of The RAINE Group, a think tank comprised of national experts which works to advance practice, policy and research in the specialty of early childhood mental health consultation. She is a frequent presenter on topics related to infant mental health, both nationally and internationally, and has published in the areas of early childhood mental health consultation and young children’s attachments to special inanimate objects (“transitional objects”).
Deborah F. Perry, PhD is the Director of Research and Evaluation and a professor at the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development. In this role, Dr. Perry provides leadership on a broad portfolio of applied research and rigorous program evaluations. Dr. Perry’s research focuses on approaches to designing and testing preventive interventions for low-income young children and their caregivers. An area of focus for her community-based research is the prevention of perinatal depression in high-risk women. Dr. Perry helped develop the evidence base for the effectiveness of early childhood mental health consultation, evaluating several statewide projects in the Washington DC region. She co-chairs the RAINE group—a think tank focused on mental health consultation policy, practice and research and is faculty for the Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation. She also serves as the external evaluator for several federally funded grants including: Washington DC’s Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, and the SAMHSA-funded early childhood system of care grant in DC. Dr. Perry is the director of research for the Georgetown University Health Justice Alliance—a medical-legal partnership that seeks to reduce the effects of health-harming legal issues for vulnerable families in DC.
Jordana Ash, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Infant Mental Health Clinical Mentor, is the first Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Hemera Foundation. She joined this private family foundation in July 2019 to lead work across child and adolescent health, development and well-being. Her efforts will focus on building partnerships to identify, explore and help ameliorate challenges that affect children, families and communities. Of particular interest is the intersection of contemplative practice and mental health. This new role comes after spending 5 years working to advance early childhood mental health policy and practice at the Colorado Office of Early Childhood. That position, also a first of its kind in Colorado, established Ms. Ash as a national expert, trusted partner, and strategic thinker in the highly visible world of early childhood mental health. She was featured on The Checkup podcast titled “There’s no such thing as a baby” where she discusses the importance for early childhood mental health for parents and policy makers.
Leah Eckley, LMSW, is the Assistant Director of Mental Health Services at Southwest Human Development in Phoenix, Arizona. In this role, she is a leader of the Smart Support program which is Arizona’s system of infant and early childhood mental health consultation known as “Smart Support”. Smart Support serves over 300 early care and education sites each year, serval home visiting teams as well as family, friend and neighbor programs. Leah also supports Expulsion Prevention initiatives at SWHD. Prior to Southwest Human Development, Leah’s work has included roles in early intervention, child care resource and referral and early care and child care systems. Leah holds a Master of Social Work from Arizona State University as well as the Infant/Toddler Mental Health Clinical Certificate from the Harris Institute at Southwest Human Development. She is a frequent presenter on topics related infant and early childhood mental health and preschool expulsion prevention.
Nicola ‘Nikki’ Edge, PhD is a Professor in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences/ Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and Associate Director of the Research and Evaluation Division. She conducts research on factors that place children at risk for poor social and emotional outcomes, and designs, implements and evaluates interventions to support teachers, children and families. Her specific areas of research include children and families impacted by maternal substance use, depression and traumatic events such as abuse or neglect and she has published widely in these areas. She also focuses on interventions in early care and education settings designed to build social and emotional skills in young children. She directs Arkansas’ Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation program, called Project PLAY, which today primarily provides child-focused consultation services to support Arkansas’ expulsion prevention efforts. She is co-director of AR BEST (Arkansas Building Effective Services for Trauma) and helps lead efforts to implement trauma-informed care initiatives in preschool programs and social service agencies.
Sherryl Scott Heller, PhD is currently an Associate Professor in the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine and a member of the Tulane Institute of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, is an international leader in reflective practice, mental health consultation and evaluation of mental health consultation programs. Dr. Heller directs the Tulane Early Childhood Relationships Support and Services (TBEARS), a home visiting program, affiliated with the Fussy Baby Network, which supports caregivers who are struggling with their infant or toddler. Dr. Heller also provides, researches, and trains in early childhood mental health consultation to childcare. Dr. Heller has been a senior supervisor on the LA statewide ECMHC program (TIKES) for over 10 years. Dr. Heller presents regionally and nationally on the DC:0-5 Diagnostic Classification of MH and Developmental Disorders in infant & early childhood, infant & early childhood mental health, mental health consultation and reflective practice.
Kadija Johnston LCSW is a clinical social worker who has been a practitioner in the field of infant and early childhood mental health since 1985. She is the past Director of the Infant- Parent Program at the University of California, San Francisco (U.C.S.F.), where she pioneered the Program’s approach to Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation. The approach she developed serves as a model for other organizations, locally, nationally and internationally. She has disseminated the model through TA and training in 23 states and internationally. Currently, M. Johnston is on faculty at Georgetown University’s Center for Child and Human Development where she is contributing her expertise and experience in mental health consultation to the SAMHSA supported Center of Excellence in ECMH Consultation.
Ms. Johnston is active in local and national organizations involving infancy and early childhood mental health, including West Ed’s Program for Infant-Toddler Caregivers Group Care and Home Visiting Trainings and the Irving B. Harris Foundation Professional Development Network for Training and Diversity in Leadership in the Early Childhood Mental Health Field. She is a founding member of the Reflective Supervision Collaborative and RAINE, a group of national experts advancing practice, policy and research in ECMH Consultation.
Ms. Johnston writes and lectures nationally on infant and early childhood mental health. In addition to numerous articles, she co-authored the book Mental Health Consultation in Child Care: Transforming Relationships With Directors, Staff, and Families.
In the next phase of her journey, Kadija is committed, and devoting energy to instilling equity, diversity and inclusion principles with greater intentionality and more explicitly in her personal and professional practices.
Mary Mackrain is a national leader in infant and early childhood mental health systems and continuous quality improvement (CQI) methods. She serves as an expert adviser to federal, state, community, and program leaders on child and family mental health, resilience, early care and education quality, relational health, and systems change.
Mackrain promotes the use of evidence-based practices and CQI to improve outcomes for children and families. She leads EDC’s Home Visiting Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network, which has achieved significant successes in strengthening home visiting processes to improve maternal and child outcomes. She is a technical monitor or mentor to CQI initiatives, including Home Visiting – Improvement Action Center Team.
A well-known author, Mackrain has published works on breastfeeding, trauma-informed care, home visitor/family partnerships, resilience, and creating CQI plans. Nationwide, she presents on infant and early childhood mental health consultation and CQI efforts within maternal and child health.
Mackrain holds an MEd in Educational Psychology from Wayne State University and a Level IV Endorsement in Infant Mental Health Policy through Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health.
Kristin S. Reinsberg, MS, L.M.F.T., IFECMHS, RPFII, has provided clinical services, supervision, program development and management in the field of infant and early childhood mental health for over 20 years. She is currently the director of the early childhood mental health consultation (ECMHC) program at the University of California, San Francisco’s Infant-Parent Program which provides services to families and providers in family and early care and education sites, shelter programs, family resource centers and residential treatment programs throughout San Francisco. Previously, she cofounded and directed the ECMHC program at Jewish Family & Children’s Services of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties serving the San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. She has extensive experience developing and implementing ECMHC programs, providing mental health consultation to shelter, residential and early childhood programs, and supporting the learning and professional development of early childhood mental health consultants and supervisors, providing training and reflective supervision within her program and to consultants in nearby states. She is endorsed as an Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist and Reflective Practice Facilitator II by the California Center for Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health.
Allison Boothe Trigg, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and associate professor at Tulane University School of Medicine where she co-developed the TIKES early childhood mental health consultation model (ECMHC), which focuses on supporting young children’s social-emotional development in early education settings. Dr. Trigg is the Executive Director of Tulane Mental Health Consultation Services and she has directed the statewide TIKES ECMHC program for over thirteen years. Dr. Trigg has published peer-reviewed articles on ECMHC and has spoken to many national groups about the ECMHC including Zero to Three, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the US Office of Family Assistance among others. She co-edited the book, Managing Behavioral Issues in Child Care and Schools: A Quick Reference Guide, which was recently published by The American Academy of Pediatrics. Prior to joining the faculty at Tulane, Dr. Trigg received a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and a master’s and doctoral degree in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology from The University of Alabama. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship in infant mental health at Tulane University, where she evaluated and treated children under five in foster care and their caregivers.