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Staff Spotlight: Iszy Martinez

Iszy Martinez is a Bilingual Child Life Assistant and Facility Dog Handler at ChicagoCAC. Their role ensures clients feel safe, comfortable, and looked after during the client visit. On top of all of that, they are also part of a team that takes care of Mac, our facility dog.

Iszy’s caring and compassionate nature has made them the perfect addition to ChicagoCAC and the Child Life Team. We asked them a few questions about their role, Child Life, and the importance of their work.

What is your role at ChicagoCAC?

Bilingual Child Life Assistant and Facility Dog Handler

What is Child Life?

Child Life provides children and families with support and assistance in developing ways to cope with stress, anxiety, or fear through play and creative expression! We provide self-agency and a sense of control by giving options and making sure the children and family at our center feel heard, seen, and safe. Child Life provides snacks, games/toys, crafts, coping education, therapeutic activities, and Mac, our facility dog for cuddly comfort!

Why did you choose a career in it?

To be completely honest, a year ago I didn’t know what Child Life was. I worked for my mother’s daycare for the majority of my upbringing and worked as a preschool teacher for several years and realized I love working with children and the youth- they are our future.  Learning more about Child Life, I thought it was a good fit. I love the idea of overcoming anxieties through playing with dolls or painting your emotions out on a jumbo canvas while listening to music.

Why ChicagoCAC?

I believe that the mission and vision of ChicagoCAC is super important and something I feel deeply passionate about. Although the fight against abuse towards children appears never-ending, it feels impactful to be part of an organization that actively advocates and champions those affected.

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day consists of reading up on cases before the FIs (forensic interviews/interviewers) come in to be best equipped for these children’s and families’ needs. Assessing if Mac our facility dog would be beneficial for their visits. Ensuring they feel safe and understand why they are here, providing education on the center and FI process if they are unsure, and providing coping education-letting kids pick out a fidget! If there are any concerns or information from clients that are observed while interacting with them, it is communicated with the rest of the MDT (multi-disciplinary team). Lots of direct service with the clients.

I typically love using/promoting creative expression with our kids after their FIs so I will sometimes provide crafts, painting, and even a painting session with Mac. 😊 There are times I am providing support in the Family Hope Center Playroom, where you’ll see me playing Uno or board games with kiddos and/or their families.

Are you looking forward to anything in ChicagoCAC’s future?

The expansion of Mental Health services for adults is something very exciting and very much needed.

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