Connections: The Power behind High Quality Caregiving

The Inaugural Infant Toddler Specialist Network (ITSN) Conference

January 27, 2024 | 8:30 – 4:30 | In-person and Online | Bryant Conference Center, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

The ITSN Conference is a special opportunity to focus on the uniqueness of the infant-toddler period and to connect with colleagues who share your commitment to babies and their families. The conference theme – Connections: The power behind high-quality caregiving – speaks to the critical role of relationships in supporting children’s current and future well-being. You will learn with colleagues, hear from experts, and consider questions and ideas about topics such as (1) the importance of early relationships, (2) teaching children with special support needs, (3) the science behind early movement and development, and (4) relationship-based strategies and practices for building strong parent partnerships.

Who should attend? ALL center-based and family care educators serving infants and toddlers in Alabama are welcome and encouraged to attend, as well as site managers or administrators supervising infant-toddler programs. The conference is also open to coaches, consultants, and professional development providers supporting the infant-toddler workforce.

Alabama Infant Toddler Specialist Network Conference January 27 Bryant Conference Center

Registration Links:

If you wish to register by phone or have questions, please contact registration services at (205) 348-3000.

ITSN Conference Speakers

Developmental and Mental Health Needs of Young Children

Brenda Jones Harden, Ph.D. – Professor at Columbia University, Scientist-Practitioner and Researcher

Before joining CSSW, Brenda Jones Harden was the Alison Richman Professor for Children and Families at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. She directed the Prevention and Early Adversity Research Laboratory. There she and her research team examined the developmental and mental health needs of young children who have experienced early adversity, particularly those who have been maltreated or have experienced other forms of trauma. A particular focus was preventing maladaptive outcomes in these populations through early childhood programs. She conducted numerous evaluations of such programs, including parenting interventions, early care and education, home visiting services, and infant mental health programs.

Dr. Jones Harden has consulted with and provided training to numerous organizations regarding effective home visiting, infant and early childhood mental health, reflective supervision, infant/toddler development and intervention, and working with high-risk parents. She began her career as a child welfare social worker, working in foster care, special needs adoption, and prevention services, the latter of which became her long-term practice and research focus. A scientist-practitioner, she uses research to improve the quality and effectiveness of child and family services and to inform child and family policy. Dr. Jones Harden received a PhD in developmental and clinical psychology from Yale University and a Master’s in Social Work from New York University.

Autism-Specific Strategies to Support the Infant-Toddler Workforce

Angela Barber, Ph.D., CCC-SLP and Kimberly Tomeny, Ph.D.

Dr. Angela Barber is the Chair of the Samford Communication Sciences and Disorders Department. Barber’s teaching, clinical work, and research focus on autism and social communication in early childhood. Her primary research looks at improving accessibility to effective early identification and interventions for children with an increased likelihood for autism by building cooperative and sustainable solutions that promote health equity. As a licensed clinical Speech-Language Pathologist, she combines evidence-based practice into instructional settings and real-world applications to bridge the research to service gap experienced in rural and underserved areas. Barber also studies the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in CSD Programs as it relates to preparing students to work with minimally verbal individuals. She has received grants to support her and her students’ participation in community-based research.

Dr. Kimberly Tomeny is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Special Education at The University of Alabama and program director of EI@UA. Her clinical and research interests focus on coaching early childhood professionals on implementation of evidence-based practices, application of telehealth in early intervention, and supporting caregivers of infants and toddlers with confirmed or suspected autism. She has partnered with Alabama’s Early Intervention System on professional development initiatives related to statewide implementation of the Routines-Based Model and the creation of a sustainable system of care for families of young children with autism through intervention and screening initiatives.

Movement that Matters: The science Behind Early Movement and Play

Erin Reilly, Ph.D. and Tiffany Higgenbotham, DPT

Dr Tiffany Higginbotham received her Masters of Physical Therapy from the University of Alabama-Birmingham after graduating from Auburn University-Montgomery with a degree in Psychology. She earned her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the University of Montana. Higginbotham has nearly 27 years of clinical experience, having been licensed as a PT since 1997. Her experience predominantly involves outpatient orthopedics with a special interest in manual therapy for spinal and pelvic dysfunction. She also has treated pre-school / grade school age children to help address attention and learning disabilities. Additionally, she is the co-owner of Neurokinectic Solutions and co-founder of Brain Pump. Higginbotham is also a Partner/Clinical Director of Therapy South Montgomery. She has presented at numerous educational conferences on movement and the brain along with Dr Erin Reilly. She lives in Montgomery with her husband, Keith, and their three children. 

Dr. Erin Reilly is a professor in the Kinesiology Department at Auburn University Montgomery.  She has more than 30 years of teaching experience at the K-12 and university level. Currently, she teaches Methods of Teaching Physical Education classes to future teachers, Psychology of Coaching, Sociology of Sport, and dance and martial arts classes. Reilly received her PhD from the University of Kansas and earned a certificate from Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Mind, Brain, and Education Institute. She has more than 30 publications and over 80 conference presentations and is the co-founder/ co-owner of NKS and Brain Pump.

A Developmental-Relational Framework for Understanding Children’s Behavior and Engaging Families

Jayne Singer, Ph.D. IECMH-E®

Dr. Singer is a clinical psychologist and Endorsed® Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Clinical Mentor with more than 40 years of experience working in hospital and community-based programs, serving children and families with a wide variety of developmental, medical, social, emotional, and familial challenges. At the Brazelton Touchpoints Center in the Division of Developmental Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, she serves as Director of Developmental and Relational Health as well as Director of Clinical Training.

Additionally, Singer serves as a Commissioner on the MA Post-Partum Depression Commission. She engages in clinical practice and continuous national and international teaching and intensive reflective mentoring of the Brazelton Touchpoints Approach and the Newborn Behavioral Observations system. Singer spearheaded adaptations of the Touchpoints Approach that developed within the field of primary care pediatrics for application in the fields of Early Intervention and Developmental Disabilities, Early Care and Education, Mental Health practice, and Substance Use Disorder Recovery.

Additional distinctions include her roles as Past President of the Massachusetts Association for Infant Mental Health,  Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School, a ZTT-certified trainer of the DC:0-5 system, and the 2022 recipient of the William M. Schafer, PhD, Award to Honor Excellence in Reflective Supervision, Leadership and Inspiration awarded by international Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health.