Special Initiatives


Harris Professional Development Network

The Harris Professional Development Network (PDN) is a network of 19 Irving Harris Foundation grantees led by infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH) and child trauma experts coming from 12 states, DC, and Israel. The experts contribute to their respective communities by training the early childhood mental health workforce and contributing to the integration of mental health and child trauma principles into services and systems that serve pregnant women and very young children. The network includes various types of institutions that offer pre- and post-doc fellowships in infant and early childhood mental health, specialized MA and BA programs, certificates and professional development opportunities along the care continuum from promotion to treatment. All have in common their passion for supporting young children’s social and emotional well-being, which means allowing very young children to:

In addition to training the infant and early childhood mental health workforce, many PDN grantees have developed and replicated evidence-based models and programs that are at the forefront of the IECMH field, including: Child-Parent Psychotherapy, Fussy Baby Network, Minding the Baby, Healthy Steps, Project Dulce, Mom2Mom, Safe Babies Court Teams, and Mental Health Consultation.

The History of the PDN

In 1994 Irving Harris wrote to a small group of leaders and experts in the nascent field of infant and early childhood mental health and trauma. He asked for big ideas that could transform the lives of young children and their families. He suggested focusing on their social-emotional well-being and reduction of the prevalence and impact of trauma. Irving emphasized leadership development as a strategy to build the infrastructure of the infant mental health field. The leaders selected and their innovative ideas became the base for what is now the PDN. For more than 23 years, the PDN and its members have played a leading role in improving mental health and related services for very young children across the U.S. and in Israel.

For over two decades the members of the PDN have been dedicated to training providers, transforming child and family serving systems, and informing and influencing policy. As the recent tragic situation unfolded with young immigrant children being separated from their families at the border, the PDN’s collective voice is important and meaningful to advancing change and activating the field. As such, the Foundation in partnership with our PDN colleagues has prepared a statement on the current situation to join the voices taking a stand on behalf of young immigrant children and their families. We hope you join with us and encourage you to disseminate the message throughout your networks and to push for change to policy whenever and wherever possible.

PDN Statement on Child Separation