a monthly comm(unity) newsletter
July 2023 - Welcome to the July edition of the Inside Erikson newsletter!
School is out and summer is in! While students and families enjoy pools, waterparks and fun in the sun, Erikson is offering a summer professional development series for teachers, educators and others in the early childhood workforce, providing summer classes for our degree programs, and enrolling new students for the Fall semester. June 30 also marked the close of a phenomenal fiscal year at Erikson Institute. From a record-breaking luncheon fundraiser and an $8 million transformational gift, to launching a new teacher education program, to expanding our clinical services into communities; fiscal year 2023 was one of Erikson’s best years. Check out all that we’ve accomplished and all we have to look forward to in our 2023 Impact Report. Finally, we were honored to host Governor JB Pritzker at our inaugural Inspire Circle event on Jun 27. Read more about the Inspire Circle event below and have a wonderful July!
Minority Mental Health Month
Foreign Language Month
Disability Pride Month
French American Heritage Month
US Independence Day — July 4
International Non-Binary People’s Day — July 14
Al-Hijri — July 18 – 19
National Disability Independence Day — July 26
Black Women’s Equal Pay Day — July 27
Ashura — July 27
MEME: Meaning-Making in Early Mathematics Education — July 11-14
Nurturing Math Thinking with Infants, Toddlers, and 2s — July 18, 20, 25 & 27
International Day of Friendship — July 30
On June 27, Erikson Institute’s Inspire Circle hosted a special Breakfast and Panel Discussion titled “The State of Early Care & Education in Illinois.” Erikson President Mariana Souto-Manning and Cristina Pacione-Zayas, Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Brandon Johnson discussed Illinois’ Smart Start initiatives and other investments being made in early childhood education with Illinois Governor J.B Pritzker. The event was attended by an array of Illinois leaders in the early childhood space and featured an inspirational conversation about the system’s past, present and most importantly, its future. Watch the entire discussion via Governor Pritzker’s Facebook page .
On June 14, Erikson faculty Dr. Linda Gilkerson and Dr. Abby Palmer Molina hosted a virtual Midwest Social Work Faculty Institute. The institute convened regional social work deans, faculty, and doctoral students interested in growing their ability to promote diversity, equity, and social justice in teaching and scholarship around infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH) in social work. The event highlighted the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Curriculum Guide on IECMH and the resources it offers. At the day-long faculty institute, the group discussed how to infuse the values of diversity, equity, and social justice into IECMH and explored how to utilize the CSWE curricular guide on that topic.
Dr. Linda Gilkerson and Erikson‘s Facilitating Attuned Interactions (FAN) team is collaborating with their Indigenous colleagues to culturally adapt the FAN and FAN training from Indigenous values, and ways of learning. The team was honored to present at the 2023 Indigenous Home Visiting Meeting with Karla Decker-Sorby, the Senior Public Health Nurse for the Minnesota Department of Health, and Birdie Lyons, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Family Spirit Program Manager.
The FAN team is grateful and excited to continue a partnership with Indigenous colleague, Crystal Austin. Crystal is one of the developers of Family Spirit, an Erikson FAN training participant and will be an Indigenous FAN trainer. The FAN team plans to pilot the Indigenous FAN training in Minnesota in November 2023. After that, it will be available for adaptation in other Indigenous communities across the country.
In June, Dr. Juliet Bromer presented at the annual conference of the Child Care and Early Education Policy Research Consortium in Washington DC, sponsored by The Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation. Bromer presented on the Home-Based Child Care Networks project, the Illinois nontraditional hour childcare research-policy partnership study, and the federally funded Home-Based Child Care Supply & Quality Project. She also introduced and participated in the culminating plenary session on the strengths and assets of the early care and education workforce where Crystasany Turner presented their joint paper “We are that resilience”: Building cultural capital through family childcare (Samantha Melvin and Aisha Ray are also contributing authors).
In July, Dr. Bromer is presenting at the National Association for Family Child Care Annual Conference. Several projects from Erikson’s Home-Based Child Care Research Initiative will be presented including the PreK in Family Child Care Project, the Home-Based Child Care Networks Project, and the Home-Based Child Care Supply & Quality Project.
In June 2023, Erikson Institute held a month-long clothing drive to support newly arrived families seeking asylum within Jose de Diego Community Academy. With a grant from the Pritzker Family Foundation, we were able to expand our School-Based Mental Health Project by adding a staff person, Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist Alynn McCormick, to the school 3 days a week. In May of 2023, through this connection, we were informed that the school would be welcoming a number of newly arrived families seeking asylum who were in need of supplies. Our community immediately sprang into action developing a way to support those families throughout this time. Thank you to everyone who contributed. To learn more about Erikson identifying and meeting the needs of our community, check out our latest blog here.
Last week, Erikson’s Racial Justice in Early Math (RJEM) project hosted an orientation for their 2023-2024 fellows. The RJEM project – a collaboration between Erikson Institute and the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) – focuses on addressing issues of systemic racial injustice in the math education of young learners. Established in December 2019 and led by Dr. Jennifer McCray (Erikson Institute) and Dr. Danny Bernard Martin (UIC) with funding from the Heising-Simons Foundation, the project draws on the expertise of a diverse group of stakeholders including parents, teachers, community organizers and researchers. The dynamic group of fellows arrived at Erikson on June 29 for a thoughtfully curated two-day immersion into the program’s history and the wonderful work that lies ahead.
To celebrate Pride Month, the DEIBJ Council brought the magic of Miss Muffy from Drag Story Hour to Erikson Institute on Thursday, June 29. Drag Story Hour celebrates reading through the glamorous art of drag. They work to create diverse, accessible, and culturally inclusive family programming where kids can express their authentic selves and become bright lights of change in their communities. The event was held in Erikson’s library and was the finale of a month long LGBTQ+ pride campaign spearheaded by the committee.
Erikson’s very own Luisiana Melendez, Clinical Professor, will be part of a panel discussion, “What’s Up with the Chicago School Board an Urgent Conversation for Equity” hosted by Educators for Excellence, on Thursday, July 13 from 6-7:30 p.m. at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy, 2850 W. 24th Blvd., Chicago, IL 60623. Luisiana, who served on the Chicago School Board from 2019-2022, will be joined by several other experts. Register here.
Erikson Institute’s reputation in the early childhood field has been strengthened by the contributions of our world-renowned faculty. Learn more about this dynamic group and what makes them stand out. Meet Director of Field Education and Career Counseling, Maggie Brett
Name: Maggie Brett
What year did you start working at Erikson? 2013
Erikson has been my community since 1991 when I took classes here. I’ve been at other organizations over the years, but Erikson kept calling me back for projects and positions which I’ve loved. I’ve been proud to be part of the development of the MSW program and hope to be part of its future as well.
What has been the most rewarding moment in your career at Erikson?
That’s so hard to answer as it’s been numerous moments…I’m most grateful when I see our alumni come back here to work or to contribute to the work in whatever way they can. They and the students sustain me and challenge me and bring meaning to this work every day.
What is your hidden (or secret) talent?
I’m a supremely imperfect quilter, crocheter, and knitter, but creating brings me joy.
Recognized for our groundbreaking work in the field of early childhood, Erikson specializes in preparing child development, education, and social work leaders to improve the lives of young children, families, and their communities. For more information on our degree and certificate programs, visit our website or email our admissions team.
Erikson’s Center for Children and Families offers pediatric mental health services for children birth to age 8 and their families. Services can be provided in both English and Spanish, and are available to families regardless of their ability to pay.
Erikson’s Policy and Leadership department engages leaders in government, business, and nonprofit sectors to inform effective policies that benefit children and families. They offer unique programming that equips decision-makers and influencers with the resources, skills, and deep knowledge about early childhood development that will support their efforts to make lasting change. Learn more about our Policy and Leadership
The first 1,800 days of life set the stage for a child’s long-term physical and emotional health, socioeconomic trajectory, life expectancy, happiness, and well-being. Can we count on you to make a gift to strengthen our ability to serve children and families, as well as our students, faculty, and staff, during this time? Your support for Erikson prepares the heroes in young children’s lives—teachers, social workers, civic leaders, parents and caregivers—to get them safely through this crisis so they can soar into promising futures. Please donate here
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