Social Workers

Clare Thoele, MSW

Clare Thoele

Clare is a social worker who is dedicated to helping kids and their families build resilience and grow together to reach their full potential. Clare grew up in the Roscoe Village neighborhood in Chicago and is happy to be back in the area at PlayWorks! Clare graduated from Scripps College in California with a major in media studies and a minor in theater. She has studied and performed improv at Second City, iO and The Annoyance in Chicago following graduation. While pursuing theater, Clare worked as a nanny and a daycare aide and is excited to use her childcare skills in her work as a pediatric social worker. Clare received her Master’s of Social Work from DePaul University in Chicago and is looking forward to employing her community practice focus at PlayWorks to empower kids and their families/caretakers.

Clare has a particular interest in helping children and their families work together to heal and build resilience when tackling behavior, emotions, regulation, and medical difficulties. Believing that a mental or physical health diagnosis is an opportunity for a family to grow and support one another, Clare utilizes a strengths-based, trauma-informed approach to her work with children. Clare loves to incorporate acting and play into her work and is excited to use these techniques to help build confidence, mastery, and strength in the kids and families she works with.

When not working, Clare loves going for long walks along the lakefront while listening to history podcasts. At home, you can find her hanging out with her two one-eyed cats, chatting with her friends and family, and tending to her extensive houseplant collection.

Emmary Smith, MSW

Emme Smith

Emme is a social worker who enjoys working alongside children and their families to create a positive parent-child relationship and support social-emotional skill growth! Emme grew up just across the lake in Michigan, where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan.

Emme has prior experience working in preschools and daycares and greatly values the relationships she was able to form with her kids while witnessing their continued growth! During her graduate internship, Emme gained experience in working with diverse families, juvenile justice involved youth, and a number of mental health diagnoses, including PTSD, ADHD, and conduct disorders. Emme is passionate about meeting kids where they’re at and working collaboratively with their caretakers in order to provide the most supportive environment for the child’s success. She is excited to be part of such a wonderful, interdisciplinary team that honors the holistic view of each child. Emme also believes that relationships are key to a child’s development and as such is interested in continuing to explore and strengthen those important relationships in a child’s life!

Outside of work, Emme enjoys reading, spending time by Lake Michigan, trying out new restaurants, and yoga. She is excited to be living in Chicago and explore all the city has to offer!