Tuesday, May 21, 2019

DCFS simulation gives inside look at challenges investigators face

Imagine knocking on a door of parents accused of abusing their children and asking them tough questions. This is what investigators do on a daily basis.

"It can be a very draining job, mentally, emotionally and physically,” said Susan Evans, executive director of Child Protection Training Academy.

One of the jobs that the Department of Children and Family Services is tasked with is making sure children are safe. In order to do this job, DCFS investigators have to enter the homes of people accused of horrible crimes.

Reporter Ana Espinosa was given the opportunity to participate in the training that DCFS investigators must complete.

UIS instructors and former investigators are monitoring every moment from another room while actors recreate the fear and anxiety of losing their children. Usually, an investigator is alone with parents that can be influenced by drugs or alcohol because these investigators can’t call ahead and let families know they are going to be there. An investigator must ask parents difficult and personal questions about allegations of abuse or neglect.

"We want to err on the side of the child,” Evans said. “We want to keep children safe. But, it is inherently complex and it’s something that is very difficult to describe unless you have experienced it."

Before ever walking into the training, Espinosa spent hours reading policies and procedures just like investigators-in-training. "You can study the laws and procedures that you have been doing but then to put them into practice professionally but with intention,” Evans said. “You know, that’s why we do simulation." But there are no step-by-step instructions on how to act in these situations.

More than 600 DCFS investigators have been through this training.

This story aired on WICS Newschannel 20 on May 20, 2019.

Watch the entire story online.

Monday, May 20, 2019

UIS overpowers Drury en route to first NCAA baseball regional title

Despite being the higher-seeded team and playing in its home city on Saturday, the University of Illinois Springfield baseball team was the visitor on the scoreboard at Robin Roberts Stadium.

So the Prairie Stars made the most of their first cuts, belting two home runs and giving starting pitcher Brock Immke a 3-0 cushion going into the bottom of the first.

Immke held Drury scoreless through the first four innings as UIS went on to take a 11-5 win for its first NCAA Division II Regional championship.

“That’s the positive thing about being (visitors),” said Immke, a redshirt senior who came back from Tommy John surgery two years ago. “You can go out there and score first and get a little of the anxiety taken care of, take the edge off of a championship game. Three runs in the first inning makes everyone feel loose and more relaxed.”

Chris Monroe and Zach Speaker hit back-to-back homers in the first, with Monroe’s a two-run shot.

UIS coach Chris Ramirez said this year’s team had a tough act to follow after last year’s record-setting 47-9 finish. But the 2018 Prairie Stars fell short of advancing from regional play.

“Early on, you couldn’t do anything but compare us to last year’s team,” Ramirez said. “But for this year’s team to fall out of the rankings and then get back in, it says a lot about them. “We deserve to be where we’re at now. I’m happy for our guys. they deserve it.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 18, 2019.

Read the entire article online.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Springfield High alum Tyler Pence named UIS cross country, track coach

Former Springfield High School runner and University of Southern Indiana standout Tyler Pence was named Wednesday the head coach for the University of Illinois Springfield’s men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams.

Pence, who has been the assistant coach for the program for the last three years, replaces Scott Slade, who left after one year to fulfill other commitments.

“To become a head coach in my hometown, a city that I love and a sport that I’m incredibly passionate about, has always been a dream of mine,” Pence said in a statement. “I have a great group of athletes who are team oriented and extremely motivated. This program in ready to take another step in the right direction. We will be bringing championships back to Springfield very soon.”

Pence is still a competitive runner and has qualified for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 15, 2019.

Read the entire article online.