Wonderland Team Receives Specialized Training

In preparation for serving children with prenatal substance exposure, our team spent several days training with the leading experts in PACT (Parents and Children Together) intervention in the field. Dr. Ira Chasnoff, Dr. Amy Groessl, and Dr. Christine Schmidt shared how this CDC-funded, evidence-based program is adapted specifically for children with FASD and prenatal exposure.

Ira J. Chasnoff, M.D., an award-winning author, researcher and lecturer, is president of NTI Upstream and a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago. He is one of the nation’s leading researchers in the field of child development and the effects of prenatal substance exposure and post-natal trauma on the newborn infant, child, and adolescent.  Dr. Chasnoff led the development and operation of a laboratory preschool classroom to develop specific interventions for children with prenatal substance exposure and early trauma and developed a model Head Start Family Service Center for children and their families at risk from an adverse environment.  Dr. Chasnoff’s most recent work focuses on community approaches to the integration of behavioral health services into primary health care, the schools, and the other multiple systems that serve children and families. Dr. Chasnoff has served several U.S. presidential administrations on committees and commissions dedicated to organizing and coordinating services for children and families across the nation and developing policies and procedures for addressing the needs of children in the child welfare system who have been affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol and other substances.  He also has worked with a wide range of States across the nation and internationally in developing universal outreach and early intervention programs for children and families affected by substance abuse.

Dr. Chasnoff is the author of numerous research articles regarding the long-term cognitive, behavioral, and learning outcomes of high-risk children, and his article on racial and social class bias in the health care system has been cited as a landmark study by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He has authored twelve books, which have received numerous awards and one of which has been recognized by The Hague International Court. Dr. Chasnoff’s recent book, The Mystery of Risk, explores the biological and environmental factors that impact the ultimate development of high-risk children and presents practical strategies for helping children reach their full potential at home and in the classroom. His newest book, FASD and the Online World, due out in Spring 2019, examines the scientific basis of risk children and teens with FASD face in their interactions on the Internet. Dr. Chasnoff is a regular contributor to Psychology Today, writing about high-risk children and their families.  The recipient of several awards for his work with women, children, and families, the Texas Center for the Judiciary recently honored Dr. Chasnoff for his exemplary work. For several years, he has been selected by a poll of physicians across the nation for listing in America’s Best Doctors, cited for his ability to translate complex medical and psychosocial issues into relevant policy that guides the delivery of quality services. Dr. Chasnoff has been active in establishing comprehensive family intervention programs for children in Australia, Denmark, Portugal, Canada, Vietnam, the former Soviet Union, and across the United States and has lectured on this topic around the world.

Dr. Amy Groessl is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in the treatment of children and adults who have a history of complex trauma, neurocognitive deficits, attachment disorders, and issues related to adoption. She currently provides psychotherapy, clinical supervision, and consultation in a private practice in Chicago. Dr. Groessl was director of the therapy program at Children’s Research Triangle (CRT) for 11 years providing direct services, local and national trainings, and managed local and federal funding grants, which included a seven-year project with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Besides her clinical work, Dr. Groessl is a visiting lecturer at the Institute for Clinical Social Work teaching courses that focus on qualitative research, trauma, attachment theory, and neuropsychology.

Dr. Christine Schmidt is a clinical psychologist who has specific interest and expertise in working with youth and families impacted by pre- and post-natal trauma.  She began her postdoctoral career in 2001 at the Children’s Research Triangle (CRT), in Chicago, Illinois, where she received extensive training surrounding the assessment and treatment of children who have histories of prenatal substance exposure and complex trauma.  Over the course of her 16-year tenure at CRT, Dr. Schmidt lead the child adolescent psychology program, coordinated the student and postdoctoral training program, directed several foundation and national grants, and provided numerous local and national trainings regarding pre- and postnatal trauma.  Most recently, Dr. Schmidt has especially enjoyed co-directing a three-year grant designed to help address the impact of secondary traumatic stress, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma on legal professionals working with youth in the child welfare system.  In her current role as an Illinois Department of Children and Family Services consulting psychologist, Dr. Schmidt provides consultative psychological services to administrators, caseworkers, and other professionals involved with the department.  Each summer, Dr. Schmidt and her two children, ages 10 and 13 years, appreciate the additional opportunity to help run a two-week overnight camp for children who have special needs, Camp SOAR.