Category: Community Partners

MCH Seminar–Shattering Families: How Mass Incarceration Harms Parents and Children

On March 12, 2013, the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Training program at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) hosted the seminar “Shattering Families: How Mass Incarceration Harms Parents and Children.” This seminar featured two speakers: Gail Smith, Senior Policy Director at Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM), and a Visible Voices speaker. Visible Voices is a group composed of formerly incarcerated women who speak out and share their experiences with others. A diverse crowd of individuals from within and beyond the UIC School of Public Health assembled to hear these two speakers discuss issues related to the mass incarceration of all women and, in particular, of mothers.

Ms. Smith presented information on the scale of this issue, outlining the dramatic rise of incarceration in the United States over the past 40 years and how rates in this country are much higher than those in other developed nations. The female prison population grew by 832% between 1977 and 2007. About 80% of these women are incarcerated for non-violent offenses, and 80-85% of all incarcerated women are mothers. Ms. Smith outlined how this leads to several unique issues for the children of these women. For example, if a mother is her child’s sole caregiver, the child will be transitioned into the care of another family member or the foster care system. The latter is of particular concern since the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 allows for termination of parental rights if any child is in foster care for 15 of the 22 previous months. She then discussed how everyone impacted by the criminal justice system would benefit from a restorative justice approach, which focuses on healing rather than punishing. The Visible Voices speaker then put a face to all of these statistics as she shared a powerful, personal account of her experiences with the criminal justice system and how her incarceration directly impacted her sons.

For more information on this issue and to learn how to become involved, please visit CLAIM’s website:


This blog entry was written by MCHP student, Nicole Gonzalez who also organized this event.



Want to Know More About MCH?

The students in the University of Washington Maternal and Child Health
(MCH) Program and in other MCH schools of public health training
programs nationwide created a visual narrative of the public health work
and research they are doing in their communities. The presentation was done with the help of Charlotte Noble and the University of South Florida MCH Program.

You can view the presentation here.  If you are interested in engaging in work that improves the health and well-being of women, men, children, and families then you will enjoy this presentation – it may even give you ideas about how you can make a difference!

The stories help illustrate how MCH makes a difference in the lives of
women and children.

Registration Open – July 2012 MCH Leadership and Legacy Retreat

July 22-24, 2012

Hyatt Lodge, Oak Brook, IL

 Leading in Challenging Times: Innovations & Inspiration

Please consider joining us this summer for the 5th annual UIC MCH Leadership, Legacy, and Community Retreat.  This year’s retreat is exciting! Our focus is on Leading in Challenging Times; however, we will not talk about this concept in ways that you may expect. We will begin with sharing personal stories of our journey and work with women, men, children, and families. Dr. Michael Fraser, CEO of the Association for Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) will lead us in this process. We will continue to connect with one another through a building common ground exercise followed by a thought-provoking discussion about what motivates us!

During the rest of the Retreat, we will explore and practice various leadership concepts including challenging the assumption that these are indeed challenging times. Change is ubiquitous. Everything is always changing and today these changes are happening at an increasingly rapid pace across all aspects of our lives: the economy, the environment, technology, public health, medicine, music, leadership, etc. As we continue to move forward in ever-changing times, what do we know and do in this day and age to support ourselves, each other, the environment, the economy, and the work to which we have devoted our lives?

We will explore a process that will turn our thoughts about leadership upside down. This will be followed with work about managing change as change is a primary leadership challenge we all face. Finally, we will conclude the program with work on the core act of leadership which involves changing the typical conversations in which we engage so that we can ultimately experience the positive outcomes for women, men, children, and families that we all desire!

The leadership training will be facilitated by Dr. Stephen Bogdewic, PhD, Executive Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs & Professional Development at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Many of us have had the honor of working with, learning from, and being inspired by Dr. Bogdewic. He is an innovative, thought leader. He is connected with the human spirit and our core desires to make an impact. He has taken what he teaches and implemented it in practice to help change the face of the Indiana University School of Medicine.  Click on the following link to view the agenda.

*Please note the event starts on Sunday



Professionals: $325 (early registration ends on 07/06/2012) or $425 (late registration)

Students: $150

Click on the following link to register.


For more information visit our website.

Training Opportunity for Graduate Students Interested in Children with Developmental Disorders


An Opportunity for Future Leaders Serving Children with Developmental Disabilities

The Institute on Disability and Human Development at UIC is excited to announce LEND training opportunities open to graduate students from the core disciplines of:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Child Psychiatry
  • Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics
  • Disability Studies
  • Family
  • Nursing
  • Nutrition
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Pediatrics
  • Physical Therapy
  • Psychology
  • Public Health
  • Self-Advocate
  • Social Work
  • Special Education
  • Speech Language Pathology

The Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program, sponsored by the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health, prepares future leaders who will serve children with neurodevelopmental and related disabilities (with a focus on autism) and their families.  The LEND Interdisciplinary Training Program is a one-year training program that incorporates both didactic and experiential learning in clinical and community-based settings. A stipend up to $5000 per year will be provided.  Trainees will gain experience in the coordination of culturally competent family-centered care, the provision of public health services, and the implementation of policy systems change.  The didactics take place over 2 semesters starting August 2012 and ending May 2013 with clinical/community training available through June 2013.

Deadline to apply is May 11, 2012.

Family/Self-Advocate trainees are individuals with a developmental disability and/or individuals who have a family member with a developmental disability. A high school diploma or equivalent is a requirement to be considered for the Family/Self-Advocate traineeship.  Priority is given to graduate students in the above disciplines and family/self-advocates; however, recent graduates working in the field may also apply.  In order to receive a stipend, a trainee must be a US citizen or permanent resident.

For more information about the LEND program or to complete an application, please visit the IL LEND website or contact the LEND Project Coordinator:

Leslie Stiles


Leslie Stiles, MS, RD, LDN

IL LEND Project Coordinator

University of Illinois at Chicago

1640 W. Roosevelt Rd. #205A

Chicago, IL 60608


2nd Annual Making Lifelong Connections Meeting

Thinking Inside the Box

This past January, I had the opportunity to attend the 2nd Annual Making Lifelong Connections meeting in Orlando. Making Lifelong Connections is sponsored by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) and is designed to bring together current and former MCHB trainees to enhance their professional connections across the MCHB training portfolio and to enhance their leadership skills. The meeting was coordinated by the University of Florida and the University of Wisconsin Pediatric Pulmonary Centers. The planning committee encouraged us to ‘Think Inside the Box’ and be inspired by our connections and what others are doing to improve the physical and mental health, safety and well-being of women, men, children, and families.

In this 2-day meeting, we had the opportunity to learn about the various MCHB-funded training programs (LEAH, LEND, PPC, Nutrition, Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, Leadership Education in Child Health Nursing, SPH, and the Pipeline Programs) and to connect with amazingly talented people who are working and training in these various programs and areas of MCH. We were also inspired to reflect on our own leadership through a focus on servant leadership, self-care, and career development.

Perhaps the most compelling part of the meeting was having the opportunity to listen to a large number of trainees in the various programs present their research, projects, and programs. We heard talks about early intervention, stress and coping in fathers whose children have autism, family-centered care, transition, postpartum depression, adolescent feelings of hopelessness, fertility, smoking cessation, cyberbullying, and disaster preparedness for children with special nutrition needs (to name just a few). The meeting was filled with people who really care about making our country healthy and safe for all. With all of these efforts, there is no doubt in my mind that we can make a difference!

All-in-all, it was quite inspiring to hear meeting participants talk about their work and lives, to see how my work fits into the bigger MCH picture, and to feel like I belong to a larger effort or movement, if you will, to improve the health and well-being of our nation’s women, men, children and families. I left the meeting feeling connected with other like-minded folks, grounded in my decision to pursue a career in MCH, proud of my status as ‘former MCHB-funded trainee’ and excited about my work in an MCHB-funded training program helping to develop new MCH leaders and support current MCH leaders.

By Kris Risley, DrPH, CPCC, Continuing Education Director and Clinical Assistant Professor for the Maternal and Child Health Program, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago



MCH Seminar–Self-Care: Practical Ways to Move from “Should” to “Good” Habits

On February 23, 2012 Nikki Lively a Clinical Social Worker in the Women’s Mental Health program in the Department of Psychiatry at the UIC Medical Center gave a presentation about self care.  The workshop covered key obstacles to healthy self-care, and provided tips and experiential exercises that participants could choose from to build their own customized “tool kit” for taking care of themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually.


Click here  to download the powerpoint presentation and the handouts

Click here to download the audio recording of the workshop (please note that the first 40 minutes of the 90 minute presentation was not recorded. We apologize, but we experienced some technical difficulties)


Relevant Links:


“The operative word is “practice”.  Practicing self-care is not the path of least resistance; it is a conscious choice you make again, and again, and again…” ~ Nikki Lively


UIC MCHP Retreat Keynote Speaker: Dr. Stephen Bogdewic

This year at the UIC MCH Retreat the leadership training will be facilitated by Dr. Stephen Bogdewic, the Executive Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs & Professional Development at the Indiana University School of Medicine.  He is an innovative, thought leader. He is connected with the human spirit and our core desires to make an impact. He has taken what he teaches and implemented it in practice to help change the face of the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Learn more about Dr. Bogdewic by reading a couple articles that he wrote or listening to his radio show Sound Medicine.



UIC Management Skills Academy: March 2012-February 2013

Program Description:
The Management Skills Academy is a professional development initiative designed to strengthen the participant’s basic and intermediate level management skills. The curriculum encompasses 12 topics offered on a monthly basis for three hours in person at the UIC School of Public Health.  Sessions can be taken on a stand-alone basis or as a certificate program.

Sessions will be offered in a workshop format and will include an information-packed overview of the workshop topic as well as participatory learning activities such as case studies, role-playing, and group discussion. Participants will have the opportunity to build their knowledge base on management practices, policies and principles, sharpen comprehension of complex topics, and practice ways to apply new knowledge as a manager in a public health setting. This is open to public health professionals working in state or county health department, federal agencies, state agencies, and community-based and non-for-profit organizations.



Foundations of Managing a Organization
March 5, 2012
Introduction to Management Principles

April 2, 2012
Vision, Mission, and Strategic Planning

May 14, 2012
Building an Effective Board of Directors/Advisory Board

Increasing Your Management Effectiveness    
June 4, 2012
Understanding Communication Styles

July 9, 2012
Building and Motivating Teams

August 6, 2012
Conflict Resolution

September 10, 2012
Overcoming Burnout

Managing Operations 
October 1, 2012
Planning and Managing a Sustainable Budget

November 5, 2012
Project Management

December 3, 2012
Continuous Quality Improvement

Managing the 21st Century Organization     
January 8, 2012
Increasing Impact through Collaboration and Partnerships

February 4, 2012
Using Social Media for Marketing and Advocacy

Click here to view a list of objectives for each workshop.

All the workshops are from 9am-12pm, except for the last session on February 4, 2013 which will be until 1pm.


$50 per session
$450 for all 12 sessions


Registration: To register please click here


MCHP Alumni Scholarships Available:
Scholarships will cover the cost of all 12 sessions. We will be giving out 2 scholarships to MCH/MCHP EPI alumni. In order to qualify for the scholarships you must be an alumna of the Maternal and Child Health Program or the Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology Program.  Ideal candidates would have 2-4 years of work experience and be able to attend all 12 workshops.


Application Requirements:
Please submit your resume and a short statement describing your interest in the program.

Please address the following questions: 1) Why do you want to participate in this program?  2) What goal(s) are you hoping to achieve through this program?

Please email your resume and your statement to Jaime Klaus, MA, at by February 17, 2012.  You will be notified if you received the scholarship by February 21, 2012.


Please note: Continuing education units (CEU’s) are not available for this program. Participants will receive a certificate of completion if they sign up for all 12 courses. However, he/she is absent for more than 3 workshops out of the 12 he/she will not receive the certificate.


Sponsored by:  MidAmerica Public Health Training Center (MAPHTC), Greater Cities Institute at UIC, and the Maternal and Child Health Program.

Time Spirits and Cultural Transformation

On Friday, October 14, 2011 the UIC MCH Program in collaboration with the UIC LEND program, the Mid-America Public Health Training Center (MAPHTC), and the Wisconsin Pediatric Pulmonary Center (UW PPC) sponsored a day-long Cultural Diversity training at the UIC School of Public Health.  Typically, I do not participate in events that I am involved in planning; however, I did have the time to participate in this one.  I learned more about how Time Spirits are shared cultural constructs/beliefs that we share from any era of history and that continue to have an impact on us and our society (ie, slavery, Jim Crow laws, women’s experience of not being allowed to vote/own property/work outside the home, etc.).  I learned that -isms (racism, ageism, genderism, and some other -isms that we created words for [positionism, visualism]) are fueled by Time Spirits!

During this training, the 30 diverse participants explored four -isms (positionism, visualism, ageism, and genderism) and discussed how others discriminate against us using these forms of -isms and the impact this has on us both personally and professionally. I was in the visualism group with many others of different races/ethnicities and it was so interesting to be part of this small, diverse group sharing this common form of discrimination.  We talked about how just showing up invites people to discriminate against us (or at the very least try to make up all kinds of stuff about us simply by how we look and how this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts).  I’ve been dealing with this most of my life so I know there is quite a bit of healing for me to do in this area.  I was grateful to have the opportunity to realize just how painful this has been for me and to experience in a new way the tremendous impact this has had on me and my life path!

We then spent some time looking at the ways in which we individually discriminate against others – not an easy discussion!  This was another huge learning opportunity which gave me the chance to re-think how I want to show up in the world!  Again, so grateful for the learning.  Personally, this gives me a stronger foundation of understanding and more courage to do what has been in my heart for a long time!

Finally, we explored our ‘locus of control’ or where we might be able to use this work to influence our own behaviors and work and interactions and where we might have some sort of positive influence.  We also discussed where it was probably going to be impossible to have any influence.  My take-away message is that I will work where I can have some influence and trust that these baby steps are impacting systems but that it will take time to see systems-level changes (even though I trust they are happening)!  And, by the end of the day, I reconnected with old School of Public Health Colleagues and new colleagues to start a grass-roots effort to impact the culture in our own School of Public Health.  This was an unexpected outcoome!  All-in-all, a very productive, healing, and hopeful day!

**NOTE:  We invite other attendees to share their stories.**

Written by: Kris Risley, DrPH, CPCC,  MCHP Continuing Education Director & Clinical Assistant Professor

Photo: Bekeela Watson, MPH , MCHP Graduate Education Coordinator and Kris Risley (right to left)

2011 Practicum Experiences

Tara demonstrating how to perform menstrual regulation with local women

My Journey through India and Bangladesh

On my fifteen hour plane ride to India this summer, I reviewed numerous articles about menstrual regulation, abortion and mid-level health providers in Bangladesh and around the world. Menstrual regulation is legal in Bangladesh and is used to empty the uterus when a woman’s menses has been delayed up to 10 weeks. It is done before a pregnancy test or ultrasound has confirmed that the woman is actually pregnant and results in her resuming her menses.  In reading all of these articles, I was preparing for a 5-week trip to India and Bangladesh where I would have the opportunity to do my field experience by working with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). During my practicum, I was based in India with the South Asia Regional Office of IPPF. I worked with the dedicated abortion team to design clinical guidelines for the management of incomplete abortion and its associated complications.

Once I had gained an understanding of the reproductive health care needs of women in Bangladesh and the availability of services, I was able to construct the clinical guidelines within the context of the resources and policies of Bangladesh. Thus, the practicum enabled me to do policy work, which is an area that I often do not get to spend time on in my daily work in the United States. Once these guidelines were complete, we traveled to Bangladesh to introduce and review the guidelines with key stakeholders in the reproductive health community of Bangladesh. We then held a conference for mid-level providers, which were the women who actually provide reproductive health care services within Bangladesh. From this conference, we were able to provide training about menstrual regulation, updates on contraceptive methods available, and a supportive community for the women to truly be heard.

Bulletin Board displaying contraceptive methods available for women

This field experience was an incredible opportunity to learn about reproductive health with a hands-on approach in a setting completely different from my work as a Family Planning Fellow in Chicago. In the future, I plan to work with IPPF to continue to address reproductive health needs of women around the world. Seeing this experience through a public health lens has enabled me to gain a greater understanding of the needs and resources that impact communities around the world and the impact that family planning can have on women and their community.

by Tara Kumaraswami, 2nd Year MCH-MPH Student, Family Planning Fellow


The Trials of Public Health Work in a New Cultural Experience

Sarah Kammerer spent the summer interning for a small Indian-run NGO called Ekjut, located in a rural town in the eastern state of Jharkhand. She spent the summer developing an intervention that addresses family planning and contraceptive use within the marginalized tribal communities that Ekjut serves.

Here is a glimpse of one of her journal entries, while in India.

The most common question I’ve received since arriving in India is “What’s it like?”

Sarah visits with the families and children served by Ekjut

I’ll start with the easy stuff.

It’s about 2 kilometers from my flat to the office. I’m picked up and dropped off each day by one of my coworkers on their motorcycles. The roads are terrible. Animals are everywhere.  No building or store remotely resembles anything from home. Food stands are set up along the road, but no grocery store for a hundred miles. Once you pass through town, you are immediately transported to a scene from the Jungle Book: rice patties, mist covered mountains and elephants.

But the people? They are the same. Adults go to work, kids go to school. Women stand outside their houses in the evening and gossip about the latest news in the town. Men tinker on their motorcycles or relax over a beer (the local tribal beer is known as Handia). But instead of women in high heels and shoulder bags, they walk barefoot with large baskets on their heads filled with laundry or food or rocks. Small children entertain themselves with rocks and sticks, not Barbies and Tonka trucks. Girls, in their deep purple and lavender school uniforms and pigtails, ride to school not on big yellow buses, but government provided bicycles.

These are the things that are easy to get used to. It’s everything else that’s hard.

The other day as I was riding to work, there was a woman passed out on the side of the road, her sari around her waist, exposing everything for the world to see. I do not know what was wrong, she could have passed out from the heat or perhaps from something else. I asked my friend if we should stop, but he said we needed to keep going, her family would probably be there soon. Nearly a week later, I still think of her, I still cry for her. I wish I could have done something. I can throw out all the excuses in the world: I can’t speak Hindi, much less any of the tribal languages in the area, I’m not a doctor, I wasn’t about to jump off a moving motorcycle, but none of them make me feel better: a woman was helpless on the side of the road and I didn’t stop to help. What happened to her, I will never know, but I do know I will never let it happen again.

And it’s not just the images, it’s the stories too.

One woman delivered in the hospital, was released immediately after giving birth, only to hemorrhage as she was practically shoved out the door. She died in front of the hospital.

An Ekjut facilitator from a local village shadowed a nurse at the hospital for a week. Understaffed, she was immediately put to work. The nurse told her to rinse off the dirty needles and put them in a box to be “reused when the nurses make their rounds in the villages.” Imagine how you would feel if learning that your own friends and family didn’t even deserve clean needles.

Or what about reports from the village women, who upon arriving at the hospital are turned away. Why? Because maybe the doctor didn’t show up that day or maybe he was just too busy to take another patient. And if the women actually are admitted, they are treated with such disrespect; they vow never to return again.

The worst part? These stories are a dime a dozen. But, that’s why I am here, right? To learn about Ekjut and what makes them successful, to do research about a subject that I love and ultimately, work for the improvement of maternal health in underserved, marginalized communities.

So, India? It’s a crazy, beautiful place. At times it’s mind-boggling, heart-wrenching and absolutely exhausting. But it’s becoming home and without a doubt, everyone at Ekjut is family.

Overall from this experience, Sarah learned about Ekjut’s vision and how they turned it into reality. She learned more about Ekjut’s methods, their strength, and weaknesses. She also learned how to put together a project proposal and develop an intervention program, while also gaining knowledge of Indian culture. Beyond this, she learned about family planning methods-both the challenges and critical benefits. And as mentioned before, Sarah clearly learned more about herself, her own strengths, her capabilities, and the areas in which she can further improve.

by Sarah Kammerer, 2nd year MCH-MPH student


Preventing Unsafe Abortions in Thailand

Britt with fellow OB-GYNS at a clinic site

For my practicum, I worked in Thailand with the Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights Foundation (WHRRF) of Thailand, an NGO which works to promote abortion training. The organization advocates for change in the abortion laws, which currently allow for abortion only in the case of risk to maternal physical health or pregnancy resulting from rape.
I began my trip to Thailand by participating in the “Executive Brainstorming Meeting on Modification of Medical Curriculum for Prevention of Unsafe Abortion” organized by WHRRF.  This was a meeting of academic physicians from medical schools all over Thailand to discuss the importance of safe abortion trainings for residents and medical students.  At the meeting, I gave a lecture about our training in the U.S. and also participated in discussions with the Thai physicians about modifying their current curriculum.

A woman cutting durian in the market

I spent the remainder of my trip speaking with physicians and other health workers about the importance of access to safe abortion services, in many different settings.  These settings included a teaching hospital in a southern province, an outpatient abortion clinic in Malaysia, rural hospitals, primary care clinics, STI prevention clinics, the Ministry of Health, and three different academic centers in Bangkok.  Through these discussions, I have gained a deeper understanding of the country’s successes and challenges in the fields of contraception and abortion.  I was impressed with people’s willingness to speak with me honestly and openly about these controversial issues.  Lastly, I was honored to be invited to speak about the importance of safe abortion in many different settings, while in Thailand.

by Britt Lunde, 2nd Year MCH-MPH Student, Family Planning Fellow

Please note that not all practicum experiences are abroad.  Many MCHP students work with local organizations on various projects.