Dr. Leon’s research, training and clinical work focuses on child health and mental health with an emphasis on Infant Mental Health. She is passionate about improving the health and mental health well-being of very young children and their families. Her passion for this population is reflected in her teaching, community training, research and community service. Since 2000, her research grants/contracts have totaled over $3,190,443. Dr. Leon’s scholarly work includes over 23 articles, co-author of one book, and national and international presentations. She is Chair of the NASW Child Welfare Specialty Practice Section, and is a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Social Service Research and a Consulting Editor for Families in Society. She developed a guidebook, Babies & toddlers in a new country: A developmental guide for parents new to the United States for immigrant and refugee families served by Catholic Charities. In 2010, she received the University of Central Florida Women Making History: The Faculty Women Prominence Project award.
For the past 39 years Dr. Leon has specialized in working with children and families in diverse agency settings and roles. She has worked as a clinician, has held numerous administrative jobs, served as Executive Director of Psychiatry at Winter ParkMemorialHospital, has been in private practice, served as a program evaluator and program consultant. She also serves as a qualified supervisor for state licensure for both Mental Health Counselors and Clinical Social Workers. She has a combined 29 years of teaching experience in New York City and Central Florida. She is currently a Professor of Social Work at the University of Central Florida where she has taught mostly clinical, children’s courses and research courses for the past 23 and years. Dr. Leon also served as the Vice Chair for the university’s Institutional Review Board which reviews and approves all research studies at UCF.
Dr. Leon’s primary areas of training, clinical and research interests are Infant and child Mental Health and documentation in social work and the human services. Her other professional and research interests include: Latino children and families, child development, and community based family services. For seven years she developed and received funding for a successful university-community collaborative project that provided community based mental health services to children and families. As part of that grant funding, she developed an assessment tool (the CALF) for assessing areas of life functioning in various client systems. An article on the CALF was published in Child & Family Social Work. She has also published in the areas of child mental health, family systems theory, assessment tools, challenges of Latina mothers, the impact of migration, clinical documentation and psycho-pharmacology.
- Ph.D., Social Work, New York University
- Pediatric health and mental health
- Infant mental health
- Chronic illness in children and parental stress
- Latino children and families