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May 5, 2024 25 mins
Dan Harris from Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies discusses how they provide early care and education in Illinois. Dr. Michelle Mullen chats about The Jed Foundation’s work protecting emotional health and preventing suicide among our nation’s teens and young adults, including how the JED Campus program has offered vital support to colleges and universities.
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(00:00):
Welcome to the weekly show on iHeartRadio, heard every weekend on ninety three point
nine Light FM, Rock ninety fiveto five and one oh three five Kiss
FM every weekend. We're here discussingthe things that matter to Chicago Land,
introducing you to various charities and nonprofitsand various topics like education, finances,

(00:20):
healthcare, and more. Got anothergreat show lined up for you Today,
we're going to be talking about INCRA, the Illinois Network of Childcare Resources and
Referral Agencies and how they provide earlycare and education in Illinois. We also
have doctor Michelle Mullin who's the seniorvice president and Chief Design and Impact Officer
for the JED Foundation, as wediscuss their work protecting emotional health and preventing

(00:43):
suicide among our nation's teens and youngadults. So to get things started,
we have Robin Rock and our friendsat INCRA. Hey, Robin, Hi,
It's Robin Rock. And joining metoday is Dan Harris with INCRA.
Dan, you're the executive director ofINCREN and I'm hoping that you can tell
everybody what it is, but whatis it that you do? So INCRA
stands for the Illinois Network of childcareresource and referral agencies, and we provide

(01:07):
a lot of infrastructure for the fieldof early care and education in Illinois.
So we do a lot of professionaldevelopment. We have an eye learning system.
A lot of people haven't heard ofINCRA, but they if you've worked
in the field, then you're familiarwith the gateway system of supports. So
we have a training registry. Weprovide scholarships to people working in early childhood

(01:33):
education as well as wage supplements.We've also been the organization that's distributed federal
support money and now state money tochildcare providers to help them stay afloat and
also improve the quality of care theyprovide and increase compensation for teachers and assistant
teachers working in those programs. So, can you tell me about the state's
newest initiative, the Real Life InfluencerCampaign? Tell me about that? Sure

(02:00):
and Paign's really at the heart ofit is aimed at promoting career opportunities in
the field of early childhood education andcare in Illinois. So one of the
things there a lot of things obviouslycame up during the COVID nineteen pandemic,
and one of the things that thathighlighted was the need for access to care
so people can go to work,and even before the pandemic, quite frankly

(02:23):
and certainly now, there's a staffingshortage in childcare programs around the state.
And so we're trying to inspire peopleto start a career in early childhood by
featuring real providers, not actors,real providers around the state doing what they
love to do and sharing that withothers. So we really want to highlight

(02:44):
the importance of a career in earlychildhood and talk about the impact that early
childhood professionals can have on the livesof children and families. You know,
sometimes there's a poem from a numberof years ago, very long time ago,
about what do teachers make and theclimax of the poem is that teachers

(03:08):
make a difference. And so wewant to show people that this is an
opportunity to make a difference in thelives of children as well as in the
world as whole, because you're you'reaffecting the future when you have a positive
influence on young kids. One hundredpercent totally agree. So I'm wondering what
types of early childhood education and carecareer opportunities are available out there, so

(03:31):
there are a lot and if Iwanted to, I would be remiss if
I didn't mention on the website IllinoisCares for Kids. There's a lot of
information there as well as career opportunities, and there are three areas that we're
highlighting. One is childcare professionals thatoperate and support safe, warm, and

(03:53):
nurturing environments for children while their parentsare at worker in school, and this
happens in what might be called traditionalchildcare centers and preschool programs, as well
as licensed family childcare homes. Sothat's sort of one area. There's also
a field called home visiting or sometimescalled parent coaches, and this involves assisting

(04:18):
expecting families and families with young childrenby working with them in their homes.
So a home visitor will come outto your house and help promote healthy parent
parent child relationships, provide information aboutchild development and overall family health. And

(04:38):
this involves a range of folks thatmight be a trained nurse or a doula
or a social worker or someone's justinterested in working with families that can go
through a training and provide these services. And the third area that we're highlighting
is early intervention and early intervention serviceproviders help at the root of their work

(04:59):
is helping infants in time who mayhave debt developmental delays to meet certain milestones
including and this involves the whole spectrumphysical, cognitive, communicative, adaptive,
or social and emotional milestones. Sosome of the most common types of early
interventionists are physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, developmental therapists. And

(05:27):
there are opportunities for both credentialed andnon credentialed individuals working in that field.
Okay, good to know, allright, So I'm curious what kind of
people would be a great career fitfor early childhood education and career Sure,
now that's a great question. It'sreally a great career fit for anybody who
loves children, anybody who wants tomake an impact and wants to be a

(05:50):
real life influencer, like the peoplein our camp that we share in our
campaign. That I would say thatthere are full time, part time,
flexible scheduling options available depending upon thejob, and there are a lot of
resources available to support folks that areinterested in getting into this field and becoming
an early childhood professional So we haveas I mentioned earlier, we have scholarship

(06:13):
programs, we have training, professionaldevelopment opportunities that are available for people to
help sort of get a feel forwhat this work is like and become a
part of it. You know,this sounds like such an amazing opportunity,
and I'm sure, like myself,a lot of other folks might have some
questions. So where do people goif they want to find out more about

(06:34):
the career opportunities. The best resourceI could point people to right now is
the website that I mentioned, IllinoisCares for Kids dot org. They can
learn there's a careers tab there theycan learn more about careers in childcare,
early intervention, and home. Visitingthe sites available in English and in Spanish,

(06:55):
you can access a variety of resourcesabout how to get and what training
is available, a kind of careercrew quiz to help determine where your interests
might be, as well as anaccess to a job board where current positions
are posted. We also have anemail address if folks are would prefer to

(07:15):
get information that way, and thatis careers at INCRA dot org. C
A R E E R S atI N C C R r A dot
org. If anybody has specific questionsor more things that they're interested in in
terms of getting involved in early childhoodeducation and care, that's wonderful, awesome.

(07:36):
You know, one more time,Dan, could you give us that
website because I just think I goback to what you were talking about a
few minutes ago with that poem.It's what do you make? You make
a difference? Right, and weall, we all, we all feel
like there's it's time for a positivechange. And what a great way to
start with the kids, right,Absolutely, absolutely, it's it's it's immensely

(07:57):
rewarding work. And so for moreinformation, folks can go to Illinois Cares
for Kids dot org. Wonderful,Dan Harris, what a pleasure to have
you here today. Thank you forjoining us. Thank you for the opportunity.
You know, we're grateful that andyour help in getting the word out
there because it really is important workand we really want to make sure that
people are aware of that and knowhow to access these opportunities. So thank

(08:20):
you very much. I'm very gratefulto you. Yes, thank you Robin
for that great information. It's MickLee here on the Weekly Show ninety three
point nine Light FM, one ohthree, five, Kiss FM, and
Rock ninety five to five. Thisshow is here to keep you update and
informed on things happening across Chicago Land. We love spotlighting local charities and nonprofits
that are doing things to make ourcity and suburbs a better place to live.

(08:41):
So if you are part of one, or you know of one that
deserves to have the spotlight live hereon the radio, you can email me
directly. It's Mick Lee at iHeartMediadot com. As we continue the weekly
show, May is Mental Health AwarenessMonth, and to discuss this important topic,
Ian Gorman has doctor Michelle Mullen fromthe JED Foundation here with us.

(09:03):
Hey, Ryan, I'm joined nowby doctor Michelle Mullen, Senior Vice president
and Chief Design and Impact Officer forthe Jet Foundation. You can learn more
about all the work they do atJedfoundation dot org. Doctor Mullen, thank
you so much for taking a fewminutes to come on the show and let's
start with the background on how thisorganization came about and the work that you

(09:24):
do. Well. Ryan, thanksfor having me. I appreciate being here.
So the Jet Foundation was created becauseof a family's loss of their son
and his name was Jed and hedied by suicide, and the Sato family
decided to use their grief to beable to create real change. And in

(09:48):
their discussions of how do you preventfuture dust a college students university president said,
tell me how to do this,and I will do everything on of
my power to be able to protectfor our students. And that's how the
JET Foundation had started. So,now that we're in Mental Health Awareness Month,
how much has awareness of mental healthissues grown in recent years? It

(10:13):
seems like by a tremendous amount.And what role do you feel your organization,
the JET Foundation plays in helping toraise that awareness. The JET Foundation
is a national nonprofit that protects emotionalhealth and prevents suicide for teens and young
adults. And we have seen realchanges how colleges see mental health on campus.

(10:41):
So I've been around a long time, and when I first started doing
research about college student mental health,we used to hear from college campuses all
the time. We don't have mentalhealth issues on campus and that is rarely
a commons I ever hear. Nowcolleges are acutely aware that their students have

(11:03):
growing challenges and are much more awareof mental health than in the past.
So because people are much more likelyto talk about mental health, and you
know, these earlier generations are opento having conversations, there is increased collaboration
and problem solving. And what ourreport has found in our work here as

(11:28):
a part of JET Campus is thatimplementing a comprehensive approach really helps to have
good conversations to be able to identifythis is a campus wide issue and everyone
could be a part of the solution. I want to get to a brand
new report that your organization released,a Decade of Improving College Mental Health Systems

(11:50):
JED Campus Impact Report. Give usthe background on this report, what you
were looking to find, and someof the highlights from these findings. So
I'll first start by describing JET Campus. JET Campus is a four year program
that partners with schools to help guideand collaborate around what are the programs,

(12:15):
the policies, the systems, theculture and campus to be able to leverage
what they're already doing and also buildadditional components to enhance mental health, substance
misuse and suicide prevention. We providetechnical assistance and help partner with the school
through those four years and so thisreport is really a culmination of ten years

(12:41):
of work that we've done nationwide.It represents over one hundred thousand students,
and you know, in this report, we saw sweeping improvements across the board.
So depression and anxiety had improved forstudents who are part of a campuses,

(13:01):
they are more aware of mental healthresources. And one thing that we
saw that was really staggering and itmakes good sense, is that you know,
improved these students also saw improved graduationand retention rates. We saw a
twenty five percent reduction and suicide attempts. So the comprehensive approach that we have

(13:24):
been implementing over the last decade notonly saw these really an important clinical like
these symptoms reduction, but also improvementsin graduation, retention and reductions in suicide.
We're joined by doctor Michelle Mullen,Senior Vice President and Chief Design and

(13:45):
Impact Officer for the JED Foundation.You can learn more and support the work
they're doing at jedfoundation dot org.Some of those numbers they seem to be
at odds with what we're hearing moregenerally about out the mental health of young
adults across their country. So thatseems to just indicate further how successful the

(14:07):
JED campus program has been. Right. You know, it's interesting when we
think about the what college students arestruggling with. You know, they are
really crossing from you know, beingearlier young adults through this transitional you know,
adulthood, and so they are managingthe competing demands of college campuses,

(14:31):
you know, the competition, balancingsocial life and academics. They're also struggling
with things that some of us olderfolks have never had to think about before,
like mass shootings on campus. Youknow, they have a lot of
stressors, but we also know thatyoung people are incredibly resilient and so knowing

(14:52):
that there are real steps that universitiesand colleges can take to improve mental health
on campus by looking at a campuswide effort shows real promise that a culture
itself can both reduce depression and anxiety, increase help seeking, and improve graduation

(15:13):
and retention. So when people feellike they belong, you know, we
have all these other great outcomes associatedwith that. Let alone, a significant
and real reduction in suicide. It'stwenty percent. You know, as we're
looking at some of the different issuesthat students attending our nation's colleges and universities
are facing these days. I'm wonderinghow much social media looms over all of

(15:37):
that. Back when we were goingto school, at least when I was
going to school, it was firststarting to roll out, but it certainly
wasn't anywhere near the level that itis today and didn't impact our lives like
it does today. You know,social media is this double edged sword.
For some it is the great connector, and for others it's a great stressor,
you know, that competition that thein comparison, and for others they

(16:02):
feel real belonging and connecting with groupsthat they don't have around them and being
able to connect with other people thatlook more like them or identify with you
know, how they identify. Soit is very complicated kind of maze to
navigate of when is it harmful,when is it helpful? And you know,
at JED we try our best tobe able to educate young people,

(16:27):
parents and caregivers and university systems onsome of the recommendations that could be helpful
in minimizing threat and risk and increasingyou know, the benefits of connection and
belonging. I'd like to dive alittle bit deeper into this program that again
is showing tremendous results, especially whenyou compare it to some of the other

(16:49):
numbers we're seeing when it comes tothe mental health of young adults across this
country. So can you break downhow JED Campus works and some of the
parts of the program that seem tomake it most effective. So, JET
Campus, as I had said,is a four year program that works directly

(17:11):
with schools, leaderships, staff,faculty and creates an interdisciplinary approach to solve
the problems on campus. Oftentimes,when we think about mental health, we
really focus on what is counseling doingcounseling office do, But rather this is

(17:33):
a campus wide approach of like howcan we all help, how can we
promote social connectedness, how can weall identify a students at risk? How
can we help increase help seeking behaviors. So when we think about JET Campus,
it's really a process of layering thecommunity as a response. So there's

(17:59):
certain things that the campus does themselves, like ensure that there is mental health
and substancecyse services that students can connectto those rapidly, that there's not long
way times. We provide recommendations relatedto how to manage crisis on campus,
how to prevent those things from happening, you know, thinking about how do

(18:22):
we ensure that students are safe oncampus. But a lot of our work
focuses on how do we develop thelife skills that students need to be able
to navigate these challenges over their lifetime, So conflicts, the resolution, managing
relationships, even things like time andtask management, so people are able to

(18:45):
manage their stress and the demands oftheir family and friends and work in school.
So when we start to think aboutthe JET campus as a program,
it is really across the entire community. Through that students feel more connected,
they're more aware. They have reportedin ours in our data that you know,

(19:11):
they have less depression last anxiety.So we're seeing real improvements by attending
to the culture on campus. Whathas the response been like from administrators and
leaders on campuses that have participated inthe JED campus program. You know,
colleges are acutely aware that there arereal needs for college students. Most of

(19:38):
our college students have been through thepandemic. You know, there was real
destructions in their development and their youknow process through high school and so they
feel really relieved, right that there'sexpert guidance out there that we provide,

(20:00):
evidence based recommendations and data informed decisions. We partner with them to be able
to identify, what are the thingsthat you have, what are the things
that are missing? Are there fundingmechanisms that we can go after to improve
something? Is there, you know, a curriculum that you can implement,
Is there a campaign that you canput into place that you know increases students'

(20:23):
awareness of you know, counseling oncampus or the role of the RA and
dorms. And so resoundingly, collegecampuses feel as if someone can provide them
that guidance that they needed to take, you know, real action at these
pieces that seem to be missing.Schools are doing a lot and so being

(20:45):
able to leverage what they already have. And sometimes it's adding a little bit.
Sometimes it's adding a policy. Youknow, sometimes it's easy, as
like creating a triage system by identifyingwho needs what's serve is when so colleges
have been very or intentionally supported byJED campus advisors and what you need and

(21:11):
how do we fit that need withexpert, evidence based interventions and recommendations.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month.I'm Ryan Gorman and joining me right now,
I have doctor Michelle Mullen, SeniorVice president and Chief Design and Impact
Officer for the JED Foundation. Youcan learn more at gedfoundation dot org.
So, when we're talking about thisJED campus program for students, parents,

(21:37):
educators who might be interested in implementingsomething like this on their campus, what
would be your suggestion for going aboutdoing that? Well, of course for
young adults, that I would sayis you know you are not alone.
If you're struggling to reach out forhelp, people want to help. I
think the other thing for young adultsis if one on campus, see if

(21:59):
you're our campus is implementing a comprehensiveapproach. You know, our data shows
that a comprehensive approach improves mental healthacross campus for parents and caregivers, JED
recommends having open conversations about mental healthwith your students. Parents and caregivers should
check out a report also see iftheir student school is implementing a comprehensive approach.

(22:25):
And I think lastly, for whatcolleges can do, our evaluation shows
real promising results that there are concretesteps that result in improved mental health and
suicide prevention on campus. And Ithink what JED would most recommend is don't
wait. Prevention is key. Don'twait for something to happen on campus that
you then have to attend to,but rather put the services, the policies,

(22:51):
the practice in place so that wecan prevent as much as possible.
And then finally, what can everyonedo to support the work you're doing at
the JED Foundation. Well, Ithink generally speaking, we want to increase
health seeking. JED wants people tofeel comfortable reaching out for help and for

(23:11):
people being able to help people whoneed help. So, you know,
promoting connectiveness, identifying people who areat risk, increase health seeking and help
giving behaviors. You may not knowwhat to do, but getting tonect someone
connected. So what we've seen inour data for college campuses and universities is

(23:33):
a comprehensive approach works to prevent suicideand it improves mental health. So look
to your colleges and universities to seeare they implementing a comprehensive approach to be
able to really improve these outcomes forthese students or Mental Health Awareness Month.
Doctor Michelle Mullen Senior vice president andChief Design and Impact Officer for the JED

(23:57):
Foundation. Again, you can andmore and support the work they do at
Jedfoundation dot org. Doctor Mullen,I want to thank you so much for
the work you organization is doing andfor taking time to come on the show.
We really appreciate it. Well,thank you for having me. Yeah,
thanks again, Ryan, and thankyou to our guests today, doctor
Michelle Mullen, senior vice president andChief Design and Impact Officer at the JED

(24:19):
Foundation. And also thank you verymuch to Dan Harris, executive director at
the Illinois Network of Childcare Resources andReferral Agencies, talking about how they provide
early care and education here in Illinois. The weekly show is here every weekend
on iHeartRadio ninety three point nine,Light FM, Rock ninety five to five
and one oh three five Kiss FM, here to discuss a variety of topics.

(24:41):
We've got childcare, information, finances, education, healthcare, and more.
And we love spotlighting local charities andnonprofits that are doing great things for
our city and suburbs. If youare part of a local charity, even
a small one with a low budget, and you think you deserve to be
here on the radio talking about thethings you're doing to make our Chicagoland a

(25:04):
better place to live. You canalways email me and maybe we can have
you on soon. Email me MickLee at iHeartMedia dot com. Thank you
so much for checking out the showthis weekend, and we'll be back again
right here next weekend on iHeartRadio
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