Illinois Collaboration on Youth (ICOY) is currently providing technical assistance to cognitive behavioral therapy organizations in our SYNC Cohort. ICOY’s support includes facilitating learning communities, sharing resources, and assisting therapy teams with strategies to improve engagement, retention, and outcomes. Learn more about a member of ICOY’s staff – Jackie Garlock, Program Manager.

How did you start working in youth development at ICOY?
I initially moved here for graduate school to study social work. After finishing my degree, I worked at Children’s Home + Aid as a therapist.  I attended a few trainings with ICOY and read a lot about their work, and I found their capacity-building and trauma-informed work really impressive.  I also really liked that in addition to program development, they advocate on a policy level.

I’ve now been at ICOY for six months, and I’ll admit that it’s been a little adjustment after being around teenagers every day as a therapist.  I miss them, but I also really love getting to support the amazing work being done with other organizations.  There is so much great work happening in Chicago and Illinois, but there is also so much opportunity to expand and strengthen it.  At ICOY, I have the opportunity to be a resource to help therapists make their work even better and serve them at a policy level.

What have you been working on recently?
I really love being able to work with providers and learn about what they do. In addition to the Get IN Chicago collaborative, ICOY also works with the Chicago Teachers Union and the Justice Advisory Council (Safe and Thriving Communities Collaborative).  A large part of my job is facilitating conversations: it’s not so much about me giving them information as it is about the organizations having conversations. I love fostering these discussions and giving great organizations the chance to learn from each other.

What has been the most inspiring thing you’ve seen or learned since starting work at ICOY?
I love when people think outside the box about services.  We often think of therapy as something that only happens in an office or a school.  But now you have therapists who realize the best therapy might happen on the way to an appointment, and you see organizations starting to connect with kids through the arts and through athletics. Just recently, we heard about a group that introduces young men to yoga.  They are seeing that the yoga is helping these youth get in touch with their bodies, regulate themselves, relax, and destress. I love that. Those approaches can be just as therapeutic as traditional ones.

What excites you about SYNC?
Connecting with all of the fantastic organizations involved with SYNC has been really great.  SYNC has some really talented mentors and clinicians, and they bring so much wisdom and knowledge to the room.

The youth in SYNC are so hard to reach, and there’s a reason they haven’t received services until now.  And this work is so important: research shows that a single supportive adult relationship is more important than pretty much any other factor in resilience and recovery from trauma. Relationships are the number one thing that can transform a young person. Hearing about even small successes of being able to reach a kid – whether it’s for year, a couple of weeks, or just for a moment – it’s not only impressive; it’s inspiring.