In Illinois, advocates for child safety and welfare have been working to find innovative approaches to lower the rate of child abuse. The University of Illinois Springfield has found one.
The first statewide simulation lab for child abuse and neglect opened last week at the University of Illinois Springfield, helping new investigators learn how to pinpoint abuse.
In an interview with Illinois Times, George Sheldon, director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, discussed the drawbacks of not having experiential training prior to this program.
“One of the shortcomings of DCFS has been providing ongoing experiential training,” said Sheldon. “From my experience, 50 percent of cases involving a child who was allegedly abused get returned from administrative judges. This is due to investigators not asking the right questions.”
On Feb. 1, the University of Illinois Springfield opened the first Residential Simulation Lab (RSL) in Illinois to be used as a training site for state-certified DCFS investigators. Located on West Lake Shore Drive, at the entrance to the UIS campus, the house offers an innovative approach for investigators in training to practice real-life encounters and build their confidence before they enter the field.
In November 2015, Dr. Betsy Goulet, the child advocacy studies (CAST) coordinator at UIS and other administrators from the university held a fundraiser to promote the Residential Simulation Lab. On Feb. 3, the first group of investigators entered the lab, participating in their first simulation. In the lab, there are cameras in every room allowing participants awaiting their turn to see what is going on as each simulation takes place.
UIS chancellor Susan Koch praised the program as part of the school’s vision to “make a difference in the world.”
“That admirable ambition lies at the heart of this new program that is coming to life this year in a small, long-vacant house on the UIS campus that formerly housed the campus credit union,” Koch said.
The story was reported by the Illinois Times on February 11, 2016.
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