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Supporting Immigrant Families

This project was a coordinated effort between Erikson Institute and Boston Medical Center to provide consultation and training for staff at local community-based agencies in Chicago that provide services to young immigrant children and their families since the beginning and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Jon Korfmacher , Erikson professor emeritus, Principal Investigator
  • Florence Kimondo , Erikson Institute, Principal Investigator
  • Michelle Saulnier , Erikson Institute, Co-Investigator
  • Sara Anderson , Erikson Institute, Project Staff
  • Erika Flores , Erikson Institute, Project Staff
  • Carmen Rosa Noroña , Boston Medical Center, Project Staff
  • Ivys Fernández-Pastrana , JD, Project Staff
  • Elizabeth Raskin , Boston University, Project Staff
  • Bernadett Molnar , Erikson Institute, Project Staff

Ongoing challenges encountered by immigrant families in this country originated in decades of anti-immigrant sentiment, racialized immigration policy and ethno-racial violence, have been exacerbated and exposed by the pandemic and have highlighted not only these families’ needs, but also the needs of the staff working directly with these families. These needs have been acutely observed and experienced by the agencies that closely work with immigrant families through home visiting programs, early childhood education/early head start settings, and infant and early childhood mental health service agencies.

This project is funded by Irving Harris Foundation and The Pritzker Children’s Initiative.

Project Aim

The Supporting Immigrant Families training, and consultation project focused on the specialized needs of families with very young children who are impacted by a range of immigration stressors and challenges, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and anti-immigrant sentiment and laws. The project focused specifically on supporting Latinx immigrant families.

This project aims to promote the mental health and well-being of families with infants and young children, through collaborating with organizations that support these families. The project was designed to enhance the capacity of the infant and early childhood workforce in community and home-based settings by providing up-to-date knowledge and skills.

A learning collaborative approach was used to promote long term adoption and implementation of new practices across the organizations that participated, through training directors, supervisors, and front-line workers. The trainings and consultation were trauma-focused, developmentally appropriate, diversity-informed, and culturally responsive. The Supporting Immigrant Families learning collaborative included didactic training, ongoing agency support, reflective consultation, technical assistance for practitioners, and support for staff well-being.

Project Components

Learning Collaborative

Training:  Multi-day workshops hosted across nine months provided in-depth information to support staff and organizations working with immigrant families. Specialized trainings included:

  • Strategies for teachers, other providers/caregivers and EHS settings to increase a sense of safety for families and to support families through additional challenges such as a specialized model for Preparedness Planning, in anticipation of possible deportation and family separation.
  • A focus on the impact of stress and trauma on very young children, which will be accompanied by practical strategies for teacher, parents, and other caregivers to address behavioral and emotional challenges.
  • A focus on stressors in the workforce and strategies to identify them and address them at both the organizational and individual levels. Including highlighting strategies for self-care, and radical healing for providers.

Consultation: Director/Supervisor consultation group and a Front-Line Provider consultation group were held regularly over nine months with multiple agencies together, receiving consultation with our experts. This structure supported agencies and participants in learning and applying new strategies from each other and from our expert consultants.


An evaluation of learning collaborative participant’s initial knowledge and application of techniques were completed pre- and post-participation in the training sessions and consultation groups to assess the effectiveness of the training. The evaluation was used to design curriculum and allow trainings to be adjusted to participant needs and will inform assessment of practice and related changes.


Forthcoming materials include the following:

  • Consultation and Training Planning Tool: a resource for trainers and consultants that provides a list of activities that can be used in training or consultation to address specific topics that come up in working with immigrant families.
  • Organizational Assessment for Supporting Immigrant Families: a self-assessment tool that allows agencies to assess their current practices and make suggestions for areas of growth and highlights areas of strengths in their work with immigrant families.
  • Consultation Guide: a guide for consultants that support providers working with immigrant families.

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