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Assessment Team


Erin Telford, PsyD - Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Clinical Operations Director

Dr. Telford, a graduate of the Illinois School of Professional Psychology, provides assessment and treatment services for school-aged children, adolescents and their families. She specializes in working with children and adolescents prenatally exposed to alcohol and drugs, as well as in the assessment and treatment of children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders. Dr. Telford has training and experience in curriculum development, with an emphasis on prevention programs for children and adolescents. Dr. Telford is the training director for a CDC-funded replication study of a group treatment for children with FASDs. Dr. Telford is also an active member of CRT's training staff, providing supervision to pre-doctoral graduate students. Additionally, she is a frequent presenter at conferences and workshops on a variety of topics related to children.

Ira J. Chasnoff, MD - Pediatrician, Senior Fellow

Ira J. Chasnoff, M.D., the founder and past president of CRT is an award-winning author, researcher and lecturer.  Dr. Chasnoff is 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 maternal alcohol and drug use on the newborn infant and child.  His research projects include a study of the long-term cognitive, behavioral and educational developmental effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol, cocaine, and other drugs; strategies for screening pregnant women for substance use; the effects on birth outcome of prenatal treatment and counseling for pregnant drug abusers; the effectiveness of both outpatient and residential treatment programs for pregnant drug abusers; and innovative treatment approaches for children affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol or illicit drugs.

Gwendolyn Messer, MD - Medical Director - Pediatrician

Dr. Messer received her medical degree and completed her pediatric residency in at Emory University School of Medicine.  Dr. Messer joined Children's Research Triangle in 2005 and became the Medical Director in 2010.  Dr. Messer works with a multidisciplinary team at Children’s Research Triangle to provide comprehensive evaluations for children with developmental or behavioral concerns, including children who have been prenatally exposed to drugs or alcohol or who have suffered trauma. In addition, Dr. Messer provides medical management for children with complex ADHD and other behavioral disorders.  Dr. Messer is committed to raising awareness about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and has presented locally and nationally to professionals and parents on topics related to FASD, ADHD, and domestic and international adoption. Dr. Messer recently completed a Master’s degree in Bioethics and Health Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

Tracy Olson, PsyD - Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Olson is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist at Children’s Research Triangle (CRT) who provides comprehensive psychological assessments for children and adolescents ages 4 to 18.  Dr. Olson completed her doctoral degree in clinical psychology with a concentration in health psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.  She also holds a M.A. in clinical psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and a B.S. in psychology and from Central Michigan University.  Dr. Olson joined CRT following a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Children and Families at the Erikson Institute where she provided parent-child psychotherapy services and developmental, psycho-educational, and psychological evaluations as part of multidisciplinary team.  Dr. Olson also has provided clinical services to children, adults and families, with a focus on assessment and treatment of academic difficulties, disruptive behavior, ADHD, anxiety, depression, psychosis, autism spectrums disorder, and child and family trauma.  She has clinical experience in a variety of settings including inpatient facilities, outpatient clinics, community mental health, primary care, and a therapeutic day school.  Previous research experience and interests include family involvement in psychiatric hospitalization aftercare, developmental disabilities, and genetic disorders.  

Cheryl Pratt, PhD - Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist 

Dr. Pratt is a Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist, a Child Development Specialist, a credentialed Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist, and a Developmental Psychologist.  She is an alumnus of the Erikson Institute for Advanced Child Development in Chicago and received her Ph.D. from Loyola University of Chicago.  She has taught at Loyola University of Chicago, St. Xavier University, and the Erikson Institute for Advanced Child Development.  She was also a University Professor in both the College of Health Professions and the College of Education and Psychology at Governors State University.  At Children’s Research Triangle, Dr. Pratt performs developmental and mental health assessments and therapy with children ages birth to 4 years. Dr. Pratt provides consultations and trainings related to developing programs for infants, toddlers, and their families as well as mental health consultation and reflective supervision to Early Childhood, mental health and health programs. Dr. Pratt has presented on a range of Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health issues as well as teaching developmental and social-emotional screening and assessment tools. Her research interests include the study of parent-child relationships in dyads experiencing perinatal vulnerability, substance abuse, and other pediatric chronic and acute illnesses.  Dr. Pratt is a member of the Early Childhood Committee of the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership.  She is on the Steering Committee for the Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Credential, is co-chair of the Implementation committee for the credential project, and facilitates cohort groups who are working toward their Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Credential.