Interpreting in Child Welfare and Mental Health Settings

Photos from DCFS and DMH

“Interpreting in Child Welfare and Mental Health Settings: Insights and Implications for Effective Communication Facilitation”

Presented by Rebecca Patton and Jessena Williams

Insights and implications for effective communication facilitation in child welfare and mental health settings. 

Interpreting in child welfare and mental health settings can be very intimidating and challenging for those who lack specific skills, experience, and expertise. Contributing to this is the prevalence of society’s stigma of mental illness, misinformation and misperceptions about disorders and current treatments, and lack of education overall. These settings require skilled interpreters at the Master’s and Advanced levels to ensure that effective communication facilitation occurs due to the risk management aspects of child welfare and mental health treatment. This presentation will describe in more detail about the value of developing a partnership between the interpreter and professional in child welfare and mental health settings: both inpatient and outpatient settings.   Additionally, participants will learn more about various child welfare and mental health settings, with discussion about therapeutic modalities, symptom presentation, and techniques within interpreting that have been shown to be effective. Along with this, discussion on the implications on how to bridge the gap with communication access will highlight the interpreter’s role in this. Participants can expect to learn more on how to build a teamwork approach with the child welfare/mental health practitioner and/or team that provides the service.

The training will be presented in ASL.

.5 CEUs through IRID (Attendance to the entire training is required for CEU’s)

April 11, 2015 – 9 am to 3 pm  ***CANCELLED DUE TO STATE BUDGET CUTS-NEW DATE LATER***


DCI’s ASL Studio, 3711 N Ravenswood Ave, Ste 143, Chicago, IL  (Free Parking & ‘L’ Accessible)



Rebecca A. Patton.  She possess a Bachelor of Arts degree from Illinois College.  She majored in Psychology and Sociology combined major.  She has 12 hrs of her masters degree with UIS and 12 hrs of the interpreting program from MacMurray College.  She has been employed with the state since 1998 first working at Illinois School for the Deaf as a dorm parent and later at an educator aide.  She transferred to DCFS in 2006 where she worked as a clerical in the Jacksonville field office for one year.  She transferred to the Springfield field office as a placement worker in March of 2007.  This job involved working with the children in foster care and their families.  After a short seven months she was able to transfer back to Jacksonville to an intact casework position.  This specialty involved working with the children who remained in the homes of their parents.  During a transition phase under a former director DCFS eliminated the intact division.  At that time those of who were intact workers had to bid on other positions.  Ms. Patton then became an investigator where she remained until taking the DSC position this past June. She is well versed in Juvenile court concerning adjudication, permanency and termination.  Prior to becoming employed with the state, Ms. Patton worked in community mental health for seven years as a mental health assessor and case manager for those individuals suffering from chronic mental illness.  Ms. Patton continues to interpret weekly at her church.  She enjoys watching her two children ages 15 and 10 play in sports.  She finds time to de-stress by practicing and instructing yoga and group cycling at a local gym where she has been instructing for the last 20yrs.  Current goals include:  obtaining an accurate account of the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf-Blind cases held by the Department; educate field staff about using interpreters; facilitate services for the population; approve referrals and monitor services; currently serving three year term on the Illinois Deaf Blind Advisory Board.


Jessena Williams, MSW, LCSW, is the Statewide Coordinator for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for the Illinois Department of Human Services- Division of Mental Health in Springfield, IL.  She began these duties in June 2014 after the position had been vacant for numerous years. Previous to this, Jessena was a liaison for transitional housing programs for homeless veterans at the Veterans’ Health Administration in St. Louis.  Jessena has worked for the State of Illinois collectively for 11 years in various capacities including the Illinois School for the Deaf (ISD), the Department on Aging’s Senior Helpline and Division of Developmental Disabilities’ Bureau of Quality Management.  

Jessena graduated from MacMurray College with a Bachelor’s in Social Work and a minor in Deaf Education and Liberal Arts.  During these studies, she was able to also work at Illinois School for the Deaf in their college worker immersion program for two years. This program enabled undergraduate students to work directly with students and also live in their dormitories on campus. Jessena worked with high school students in the dormitories during their morning routine, and also a recreation program after the school day. Additionally, she was employed as an office assistant in a grant-funded program that provided training and support to mainstream school professionals who served students with hearing loss. Her final position at ISD was as an Office Coordinator in the Career and Technical Education Center of their high school. During this time, she earned her Master’s in Social Work degree from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.   She completed her MSW internship at McFarland Mental Health Center, and this led to eventual employment there as an inpatient social worker.  In this capacity, Jessena worked with both the civil and forensic populations of individuals served.  She obtained social work licensure in 2010.  Jessena also has experience with free-lance interpreting.    

Jessena is eager to have a positive impact on the delivery of mental health services for the deaf and hard of hearing.  She resides outside of Springfield, IL with her husband and two children.

Registration:  ***CLOSED***

Contact if you have any question or concern:

773-857-7709 or click here to email

CEUs Provided by:

Illinois Registry of interpreters for Deaf

Associate Continuing Education Tracking