Hi, I'm Kim Garner
Mental Health Consultant
I attended Northern Illinois University (NIU) as an undergraduate student where I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development with an emphasis on Leadership. After graduating from NIU, I spent many years in the field early childhood as a teacher and administrator in corporate, non-profit, private and public educational settings. Additionally, I have over 20 years of experience working with young children and their families in Illinois’ Early Intervention (EI) Program as a Developmental Therapist, Credentialed Evaluator and Service Coordinator at The University of Chicago and LaRabida Children’s Hospital. During my tenure in EI, I learned the critical ways birth history, family dynamics, early relationships, culture and socioeconomic disparities influence a child’s development and treatment in cases where intervention is needed. It was also those professional experiences in EI that inspired me to pursue my graduate studies.
In 2015, I graduated from Erikson Institute where I earned a master’s degree in Child Development, followed by a second master’s degree of Social Work awarded in 2018. My relationship with and love for JPA began in 2017 during my MSW internship as a school-based therapist. The opportunities to apply my clinical knowledge and skills into practice were rich and well-supported by JPA’s clinical team. My Erikson education and clinical field experiences at JPA enhanced my knowledge related to young children’s emotional needs and how their developmental progress is profoundly impacted by the context of their environment, family interactions and trauma exposure. I also became keenly aware how those factors can impact children’s academic and social engagement. Holding this deepened understanding and distinct set of skills, led me to work as an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant post-graduate school for several years.
Eagerly, I returned to JPA in 2022 as a School-based Mental Health Consultant with JPA’s C2K consultation program. I believe my critical thinking abilities, people-centric nature and compassion enrich my interpersonal skills and supports my work with our JPA team and the schools we serve. As an engaging communicator, I value listening to and connecting with others. A focus on building strong professional relationships continues to be at the core of my consultative stance. Additionally, I understand the complex nature of the work and systems teachers operate within. I have an excellent performance history of engaging in reflection with educators and colleagues alike. This reflective practice promotes our capacity to better understand and perform our work processes; as well as be in relationship with and support children and families.
Supporting children, their families and school staff using a comprehensive developmental, diversity, equity, inclusion and trauma-informed lens is an asset that will remain evident in my professional practices; as they have for my many years of dedicated work in teaching, providing therapeutic services and mental health consultation to improve developmental outcomes in young children, empower families and support educators to bolster their child’s or student’s progress.