Ann Stacks


Ann M. Stacks, Ph.D. is the Director of the Infant Mental Health Program at the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute. Dr. Stacks holds a full license in marriage and family therapy and is endorsed as an Infant Mental Health Faculty/Research Mentor by the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health. She was awarded the Esther Dean Callard Award for outstanding services to infants, toddlers and their families and the Hiram E. Fitzgerald Emerging Scholar/Researcher award. She also trains researchers and clinicians to code reflective functioning on the Pregnancy Interview.

Dr. Stacks' program of research focuses on dimensions of caregiving that support social emotional development in early childhood, especially in the context of factors that place children and families at risk for negative outcomes. She is particularly interested in the protective role that caregiver reflective functioning and sensitivity play in supporting the development of a secure attachment and social emotional competence in young children and in understanding effective ways to promote caregiver reflective functioning and sensitivity in parents who have a history of childhood maltreatment and in early childhood teachers.

As a community engaged scholar, Dr. Stacks is the university partner for Michigan's Early Childhood Courts where she has helped to secure funding, to develop and deliver training, and evaluate the model. She is also a member of the Michigan Collaborative for Infant Mental Health Research, focused on evaluating Michigan's Model of Infant Mental Health Home Visiting and was a principal Investigator on an Early Head Start University Partnership Grant, where she worked with researchers from Michigan State University and University of Michigan,and Early Head start programs to develop an devaluate an integrated attachment-based training for parents and teachers, called Hearts and Minds on Babies.

Dr. Stacks serves on community boards, including the Michigan Kids Count Advisory Board, The Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Advisory Committee, the Michigan Early Childhood Courts State Leadership Team, and the Wayne County Baby Court Active Community Team. She works with community agencies to provide professional development to staff and to assist in program evaluation. 


  •  Ph.D., Family and Child Ecology, Michigan State University
  • Graduate Certificate in Infant Mental Health, University of Michigan
  • M.A., Marriage and Family Therapy, Michigan State University
  • B.S. Psychology, Michigan State University

Office Location

71 East Ferry, Detroit, MI 48202


2022 - 2027
An Early Childhood System of Care Approach to Integrating and Expanding Michigan's Baby Courts

Funding: Health Resources Services Administration, Maternal Child Health Bureau
Role: Evaluator & grant writer (with Bryan Victor; PI: Kim Batsche-McKenzie, MDHHS

2021 - 2023
Elucidating Mechanisms of Pregnancy's Protective Effect on Drug Use to Identify Novel Treatment Strategies using Integrated, Mixed Methods, and Within-Individual Designs
Funding: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Role: Co-I (responsible for coding Pregnancy Interviews (PI: S. Massey, Harvard University)

Promoting Resilience among Maltreated Young Children: Creating a Collaborative Court Team Workforce Using Technology-Based Cross-Training
Funding: Michigan Health Endowment Fund
Role: Principal Investigator

Recognizing, Reflecting and Responding to Infant Toddler Cues: An Integrated Parent-Teacher Intervention to support Social Emotional Development through Caregiver Mindfulness and Sensitivity
Funding: The Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Role: Co-PI (with Claire Vallotton and Maria Muzik)

Trajectories of Teacher Stress: The Roles of Coping and Prior Exposure to Trauma
Funding: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Role: Co-I (PI: H. Brophy-Herb, Michigan State University)

2013 - 2016
Detroit's Baby Court: A Systems Integration Initiative to Support Infant Mental Health

Funding: Ethel and James Flinn Foundation
Role: Principal Investigator

Professional Service

  • Associate Editor, Infant Mental Health Journal
  • Steering Committee, Network of Infant Toddler Researchers
  • Michigan League for Public Policy, Kids Count Data Committee
  • Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Early Childhood Courts State Leadership Team
  • Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Advisory Committee
  • Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network, Baby Court Active Community Team

Research Focus

  • Reflective functioning
  • The effect of maltreatment in infancy
  • Infant mental health interventions
  • The influence of psychosocial risk on early parenting and infant development

Training Offered

  • An Introduction to Infant Mental Health
  • Baby Court Team Training
  • Coding Reflective Functioning on the Pregnancy Interview
  • Bringing Baby Court to Your Community
  • Developmental Needs of Maltreated Infants and Toddlers 
  • A Primer on Infant and Toddler Development
  • The Impact of Trauma & Removal of Children
  • Effective Questioning about Bonding and Attachment when Representing Young Children in Foster Care

Honors and Awards

  • 2006 Distinguished Infant Mental Health Mentor (Research/Faculty), Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health
  • 2007 Summer Research Institute, National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect
  • 2012 Esther Dean Callard Award
  • 2013 Hiram Fitzgerald Emerging Scholar/Researcher Award

Courses Taught

  • ELE/SW 7025 - Infant Mental Health Theory to Practice Across Early Childhood Settings
  • PSY 3430 - Psychology of Infant and Toddler Development
  • PSY 7430 - Infant and Toddler Developmental Assessment


A more complete list of publications can be found at or on my Google Scholar Profile

Stacks, A.M., Rice, D., Allen, K., & Rabior, E. (in press). The relational context of early development: Consequences of maltreatment in infancy and effective early intervention. In A. D. Redlich & J.A. Quas (Eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Developmental Psychology and the Law.

Stacks, A.M., Halquist, K., Barron, C., Brophy-Herb, H., Rosenblum, K., Muzik, M., & Vallotton, C. (2023). University-community partnerships to support responsive caregiving: The Hearts and Minds on Babies implementation story. Early Childhood Education Journal.

Brophy-Herb, H.E., Stacks, A.M., Frosch, C., Brincks, A., Cook, J., Perkins, H.A., Vallotton, C. D., Carson, R., & Jennings, P. (2023). The effects of a relationship-focused professional development intervention on infant/toddler teachers' mindfulness-based coping. Early Childhood Education Journal.

Stacks, A.M., Bouza, J., Knoche, L.L., Fernandez, V.A., Van Horne, B. S. & Dwyer, K.M. & the Early Head Start Parent-Teacher Intervention Consortium (2022). Coordinated teacher and parent interventions for Early Head Start: Supporting interactions and children's development. Zero to Three, 42 (Supplement 2021-2022).

Stacks, A.M., Jester, J., Wong, K., Huth-Bocks, A., Brophy-Herb, H., Lawler, J., Riggs, J., Ribaudo, J., Muzik, M., Rosenblum, L.L. & The Michigan Collaborative for Infant Mental Health Research (2022). Infant mental health home visiting: intervention dosage and therapist experience interact to support improvements in maternal reflective functioning. Attachment and Human Development 4(1), 53-75.

Alismail, F., Stacks, A.M., Wong, K., Brown, S., Beeghly, M., Thomason, M. (2022). Maternal caregiving representations of the infant in the first year of life: Associations with prenatal and concurrent reflective functioning. Infant Mental Health Journal 43(2), 311-327.

Stacks, A.M., Wong, K., Barron, C., & Ryznar, T. (2020). Permanency and well-being for maltreated infants: Pilot results from and Infant-Toddler Court Team. Child Abuse & Neglect, 101. 104332

Dayton, C.J., Barron, C. C., Stacks, A.M., & Malone, J.C. (2020). Infant mental health: Clinical practice with very young children and their families. In J. Brandell (Ed.). Theory and Practice in Clinical Social Work (3rd edition). Cognella

Stacks, A.M., Barron, C., & Wong, K. (2019). Changes in parental responsiveness and reflective functioning: Pilor results from an infant-toddler court team. Infant Mental Health Journal, 40(4), 523-540.

Wong, K., Stacks, A.M., Rosenblum, K.L., & Muzik, M. (2017). Parental reflective functioning moderates the relationship between difficult temperament in infancy and behavior problems in toddlerhood. Merrill Palmer Quarterly, 63(1), 54-76

Stacks, A.M., Muzik, M., Wong, K., Beeghly, M., Huth-Bocks, A., Irwin, J. L. & Rosenblum, K. (2014). Reflective functioning among mothers with childhood maltreatment histories: Links to sensitive parenting and infant attachment security. Attachment and Human Development 16(5), 515-533.

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