Christine Cusack, LCSW

SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKER

Christine Cusack, MA, LCSW, CCTP
Jefferson School Social Worker
(630) 617-2373
ccusack@elmhurst205.org

I am excited to continue to team with the wonderful parents and teachers at Jefferson to provide support and social emotional instruction. Should you have any questions about the social work program, your child's needs, or are looking for resources to support your child, please don't hesitate to reach out to me.

WELCOME BACK!

Welcome to the 2019-2020 School Year! As the year gets under way, Social Work groups will be scheduled and students will continue to work on their social emotional growth. Should you have be looking for resources or want to collaborate on the needs of your child, please reach out to me to schedule a time to speak!

Click here to download a copy of the 2019 Social Work Summer Packet

A LITTLE ABOUT ME

Hello! I am so excited to continue working with the amazing students at Jefferson and am looking forward to another amazing year!

I received my B.A. in Psychology (Summa Cum Laude) from Northeastern Illinois University, and my Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Chicago with a clinical concentration and a focus on school social work and trauma. I also hold a Licensed Clinical Social Work (LCSW) license and I am a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP). I have completed a post-masters certificate program in School Mental Health Advanced Practice from Loyola University.

I have certificates in CPI (non-violent crisis intervention), TF-CBT (Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), and CBITS (Cognitive Behavioral Interventions for Trauma in Schools). I have extensive training in trauma-informed care. I have also studied family systems, psychodynamic approaches, play therapy, expressive therapy, and cognitive behavioral methods of therapy. I previously worked at a therapeutic school as a Behavior Specialist, then spent 10 years in sales before returning to school for Social Work. I worked in an adult inpatient behavioral health unit for over 5 years, conducting individual, group, and family therapy as well as intake/admission assessments in the emergency department. I am also a clinical supervisor, supervising social workers who are working towards their LCSW.

My hobbies include reading, volunteering, attending musicals and concerts, and DANCE! I grew up as a dancer, trained in contemporary and hip hop, and spent many years performing, coaching, and judging. I was a member and captain of the Chicago Luvabulls (cheerleaders for the NBA Chicago Bulls) from 1995-1999 and was fortunate enough to experience 3 NBA championships!

I am a proud aunt to 7 nephews (one with Asperger Syndrome) and 2 nieces, ranging in age from 1-24 years old (my brother just had identical twins in August 2019!). My family (including 3 siblings and my mother) is spread out in Florida, Wisconsin, and Illinois (Chicago). I visit my nieces and nephews every chance I get and love playing board games, going to the park, and reading books with them.

I am honored to be a part of the Jefferson family and can't wait to watch our students grow this year! Please feel free to contact me via email at ccusack@elmhurst205.org or at the convenient link provided in the staff directory on the Jefferson website.

Warm Regards,
Miss Cusack

LOCAL PROGRAMS

Helping Girls Navigate Adolescence - Chick Chat workshop for interpersonal skills

Centers for Family Change - support for families, ADHD, Anxiety

Center for Creative Arts Therapy - Art based groups and programs

ELMHURST SHOE FUND

Elmhurst District 205 collaborates with Bethel UCC to provide shoe vouchers for Shoe Carnival to students in need. Please contact the school social worker for more information.

PARENT TIPS

School can be overwhelming for students for a variety of reasons. Check out these informational flyers to find helpful tips to manage your child's behaviors or anxiety!

Tips to De-escalate an Anxious or Defiant Child - Do you struggle with  giving your child attention when they are acting out? Check out these tips to help de-escalate interactions with children who are oppositional or anxious.

Problem Solving - Does your child have frequent meltdowns? Check out this problem-solving method to reduce frequent tantrums!

Tears at drop off - Does your child refuse to go into school or cry and cling to you at drop off? Here are some helpful tips.

Meltdowns - Do you often find yourself frustrated because your child is inconsolable? Here are some strategies to try.

Calming Phrases - Navigating anxiety can be challenging. Try these phrases to help calm an anxious child.

Executive Functioning - Does your child struggle with organizing their thoughts and ideas, especially with homework? Check out these strategies!

Social Thinking - Some children struggle with social interactions: what to say, how to engage, and how to build meaningful relationships. This flyer gives an overview of Michelle Garcia Winner's "Social Thinking"  strategies.

Coping Skills - Print these cue cards on business cards and put them on a ring. Your child can use them when upset in order to self-regulate!

iPad applications - Here are some great social emotional learning applications for tablets!

SEL books - check out this list for great books that teach children social emotional skills!

More to come - check back soon!

HELPFUL LINKS

LOCAL/FINANCIAL RESOURCES:
*United Community Cares Association (UCCA) - Elmhurst area resource for financial support

AUTISM AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITY RESOURCES:
*Ray Graham Association - resource for people with disabilities
*National Down Syndrome Society - advocate organization for acceptance and inclusion for people with Down Syndrome
*GiGi's Playhouse - Down Syndrome Achievement Centers
*AB Autism Spectrum & Developmental Disorders Resource Center - local resource for support for individuals with autism spectrum and developmental disorders
*Autism Speaks - Autism science and advocacy organization, including Tool Kits for families
*National Autism Center - evidence-based information about the treatment of autism spectrum disorder
Autism Response Team (888) 288-4762

BULLY PREVENTION RESOURCES:
*Stop Bullying - what is bullying, who is at risk, how to prevent and respond to bullying
*National Bullying Prevention Center - resources and activities for students, parents, and educators

SEXUAL ABUSE PREVENTION:
*Stop It Now - safety information, prevention tools, guide books
*Erin's Law - State Law for implementing prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program

MENTAL HEALTH/CRISIS INTERVENTION RESOURCES:
*DuPage County Crisis Intervention - 24 hour mental health support
*National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) - resource for mental health education, advocacy, and support
*Mental Health Helpguide - for information on signs, symptoms, and effects of various mental health concerns
*Suicide Prevention Resource Center - for information on recognizing and responding to warning signs

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-8255

RESOURCES

Resource lists available (upon request) for the following areas:

  • General Counseling
  • Hospitals/Emergency Assessments
  • Psychiatric Evaluations
  • Financial Assistance
  • Social Skills groups
  • Sexual Assault
  • Eating Disorders
  • Rehabilitation

Please contact the social worker for additional support or to request resources.

WHAT IS SOCIAL WORK?

The school social worker works collaboratively with school personnel to address at-risk student concerns and to provide the best learning experience for all students. The Special Education team, including the school social worker, works to understand and interpret the influence of the school, home, and community on children so that we can identify the social and emotional issues that may be interfering with a student’s overall academic and social potential. Social Work services include crisis intervention, individual and group counseling, consultation with teachers and administrators, assessments, classroom presentations, student advocacy, mobilizing resources for students and families, and school-wide behavior management. Referrals come from a number of sources, including Individualized Education Plans (IEP), 504 Plans, discipline and attendance data, administrators, specialists, teachers, parents, and students. Common interventions provided via social work support include learning coping skills, self-esteem, developing social skills, assertiveness, problem-solving, identifying emotions, self-regulation, anxiety, grief and loss, behavioral concerns, and trauma. Please contact the school social worker for a confidential consultation regarding services that you and/or your child may need. To learn more about social work, please review this brief brochure.

For specific information on social work at Jefferson, please click HERE.

IMPORTANT EVENTS

  • Bully Prevention Week
    • October is National Bully Prevention Month.  Jefferson will recognize Bully Prevention the week of October 29-November 1, 2018. We will kick the week off with an assembly for all Jefferson students to talk to about how to establish a supportive and safe school climate where all students feel protected. There will be additional activities and classroom lessons on bully prevention throughout the week. At Jefferson, we unite against bullies!
       
  • District 205 Social Workers Parent Presentation Good Fences for Good Parenting: Setting and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries with Our Kids.
    • Please join us at Sandburg Middle School on Tuesday, October 30 at 12:30pm for a presentation just for Elmhurst parents! This presentation will explore how to create limits that support our children's natural need for exploration and our natural need to protect them. From using technology and social media to maintaining emotional regulation, this workshop will be packed full of useful guidance for parenting today. Click here for more information.
       
  • Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Week
    • Jefferson will recognize RAK Week the week of February 19-22, 2019. Students will participate in daily activities to show kindness and practice inclusion. At Jefferson, we choose kindness!
       
  • Erin's Law
    • The Erin's Law assemblies will be scheduled by grade level throughout the fall and winter. Dates will be announced in the fall.

ERIN'S LAW

Erin’s Law, House Bill 6193, became Illinois law in 2013. This legislation requires schools to teach age-appropriate sexual assault and abuse awareness and prevention for grades Pre-K through 12. In Elmhurst, we already have personal safety built into many grade levels’ health education curriculum.  However, after reviewing the requirements of the new legislation, we recognize that our students need additional information and strategies in order to consider past events and prevent future encounters. Our curriculum at each grade level will cover the following:

  • Distinguishing different types of touch
  • Saying “NO”
  • It’s not the child’s fault if someone touches him or her
  • Identifying and telling a trusted adult

This year, lessons will be taught in each classroom by the school social worker, along with the classroom teacher, for students in 1st through 5th grade. Our social worker and the principal will visit all of the Kindergarten classrooms, as they did last year, to share an age-appropriate read-aloud with students as a part of the Personal Safety Unit that is already in place at our schools. Dates for all grade levels will be shared in the fall.

For additional information, please visit www.elmhurst205.org/Erins_Law or 
www.erinslawillinois.org