Inside Erikson | July 2021 Newsletter

July, 2021 – Summer can be a laid-back time at some places, but not at Erikson—our talented faculty and staff continue their work and keep innovating. This issue of Inside Erikson is full of new directions and endeavors, such as new professional development, new procedures for returning to in-person activities, and personnel changes and promotions. We’re also including a donor spotlight on a special Erikson champion, Kassie Davis, who is retiring from the CME Group Foundation after 15 years of supporting early childhood education.

Keep reading for our latest announcements and events and thank you for being a committed member of the Erikson community.


Erikson Updates

Update on Erikson In-person Activities

As we continue advancing toward a full reopening for our Fall semester, Erikson’s planning is being guided by data provided by a monthly “pulse” survey for staff and faculty. Based on recommendations from the Return to In-Person Activities Task Force, we have already adjusted some of our building protocols for staff, including no longer requiring temperature checks or daily questionnaires. We have also expanded our lobby hours and the availability of security and housekeeping. Other issues such as masking and classroom capacity are still being determined. Safety for the entire Erikson community remains our top priority and continues to inform all our decisions.


Illinois Risk and Reach Report: A 2019 pre-pandemic view of early childhood landscape

Erikson is proud to announce that our Policy and Leadership Department released Illinois’ second Risk and Reach Report on July 7! Risk and Reach visualizes county-by-county data through maps to help Illinoisans better understand the well-being of children birth to 5 in their communities in relationship to the reach of the state’s early childhood resources. This report reflects primarily 2019 data to establish a baseline measuring the conditions for children and their families prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Policy and Leadership is providing two opportunities for anyone interested in the initial findings from the 2021 report at presentations to be held July 15 and July 22. Download the Risk and Reach Report here.


Illinois State Capitol

Summary of State Legislation Impacting Children

Our Policy and Leadership department has provided a comprehensive round-up of legislation passed by the Illinois General Assembly that will impact young children and families. Please read all about it in this blog post.


Donor Spotlight: Kassie Davis Retiring from CME Group Foundation

CME Group Foundation, a prominent supporter of Erikson’s work—particularly our Early Math Collaborative (EMC)—announced in May that Kassie Davis, its founding Executive Director, will retire after 15 years. Erikson’s relationship with Kassie and CME Group Foundation dates back nearly as long. Over the years, CME Group Foundation’s steady support totaling nearly $2.6M has helped our EMC grow into a research and professional development leader with an international audience.

Beyond the grant figures, Kassie’s leadership has had an even greater effect. “Kassie’s influence has been exceptional, not simply as a professional grant-maker, but as a skilled convener and connector of likeminded organizations and funders, working toward a common objective in advancing early childhood math,” said Jennifer McCray, PhD, principal investigator of the EMC.  “Erikson is stronger because of the connections we have made through Kassie to advance the field.”

Kassie’s vision and commitment are evident in this statement from her retirement announcement, “I’ve had the pleasure of working with many talented internal and Foundation colleagues, inspiring grantees, and other collaborators—all committed to ensuring low-income students have access to a high-quality education, cradle to career.” Kassie will be greatly missed, and the Erikson community wishes her all the best.


Jon KorfmacherFarewell, Jon Korfmacher

After 23 years as a beloved professor and researcher, Jon Korfmacher, PhD, is leaving our Erikson faculty at the end of August to take on a new position as Senior Research Fellow at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. An Erikson faculty member since 1998, Jon has helped scores of Erikson students learn about assessment and research study design, and how results are applied to work in the field—always with an eye to how to help children and families. In addition to his academic and research work at Erikson, Jon directs our PhD program. Best wishes, Jon!


Faculty and Staff Achievements

Congratulations to Valerie Williams, Senior Associate Director, Admission and Multicultural Student Affairs, who recently completed her Cornell University DEI certificate program.

Linda Gilkerson co-authored an article in Social Work, a journal of the National Association of Social Work, titled, “Locating Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health at the Heart of Social Work.”

A 2014 report on family engagement that Erikson did for the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood has been featured in a new brief for policymakers from the Urban Institute (UI). The Erikson study cited by UI was co-authored by Juliet Bromer, PhD using data from focus groups conducted by Tonya Bibbs, PhD.

Alexis Lauricella, PhD, is part of a team that recently launched a new video game that introduces children to quantum physics. Read about this exciting project here.

Our Fussy Baby Network’s Nancy Mork & Siemone Smith presented virtually at the World Association for Infant Mental Health (WAIMH) conference June 22-25, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia on their work with incarcerated fathers.


July 2021 Events

Summer Learning Professional Development

You’ve heard of the Summer of Love—this is the Summer of Loving Learning! Erikson’s talented faculty and staff are offering a range of summer learning opportunities for professionals this month. You can see the full listing of offerings here. Please spread the word!

Project Connect – for Illinois Educators

Project Connect, an initiative of Erikson’s Early Teaching and Learning Academy, is reaching out to educators across the state to create a unique professional development partnership with school districts. Project Connect supports the state’s initiative on kindergarten readiness, including the mandated Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) assessment. Project Connect aims to improve teachers’ ability to observe, document, and interpret children’s behavior and thinking, a vital skill to better and more equitably meet the diverse needs of children in Illinois. Learn more here.


Erikson in the News

Sara Anderson, Associate Director of our Center for Children and Families, was featured in a Chicago Parent magazine article about how our skilled clinicians support parents who need help with their child’s behavior.

Our partnership with Neighborhood Parents Network is getting Erikson experts in front of a whole new audience. Read these recent posts by Sara, on early childhood mental health, Amanda Morenoon social emotional learning, Jeanine Brownell on early math, and Nancy Mork from our Fussy Baby Network.

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About Erikson

Erikson Institute Entry

Graduate Education

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. Click here for more information on our degree and certificate programs, or email our admissions team.

Clinical and Community Services

As we adapt to these unexpected and challenging times due to COVID-19, Erikson’s Center for Children and Families is offering virtual mental health services to parents, caregivers, and children, as well as crisis counseling and consultation to support first responders and early childcare providers and teachers. Services can be provided in both English and Spanish, and are available to families regardless of their ability to pay.

We have also re-opened our River North clinic for services that require in-person assessments, including Early Intervention Medical and Neurodevelopmental Diagnostic Evaluations.

Our Fussy Baby Network, which helps families struggling with their infants’ crying, sleeping, or feeding, has also pivoted to provide more of its services, like home visits, in a virtual environment.

Policy and Leadership

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.

Give to Erikson

The first 1,100 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.

More Ways To Connect

Learn more about Erikson’s Early Math Collaborative and TEC Center.