The small, nondescript house with blistering gray paint on the north end of the University of Illinois Springfield campus holds at the same time both hope and horror.
Fortunately, the horror — in the form of child abuse and neglect — is fabricated and is used as a training tool for students, state Department of Children and Family Services investigators and first-responders.
The training at the Residential Simulation Lab House, as well as in a mock courtroom established in the campus television studio in the Public Affairs Center, offers hope that improved training will enable investigators to better curb child abuse and neglect.
The simulated training house and mock courtroom, part of a DCFS Child Protection Training Academy pilot program designed by the UIS State Center for Policy and Leadership, was dedicated Monday, although training began in February.
The house, vacant since 2010, was formerly a branch of the Sangamon Schools Credit Union, which closed that year because of a problem with the septic system.
Betsy Goulet, clinical assistant professor in the public administration graduate program and coordinator of the Child Advocacy Studies (CAST) program at UIS, said discussion with DCFS about establishing such a program began several years ago.
UIS Chancellor Susan Koch said the academy “is happening because of her (Goulet).”
Goulet said when she was studying for her PhD, she learned about the program, which simulates real-life situations, and went through the training. With training for child-protection investigators considered inadequate, she wanted to apply the simulation training to improve the skills of present-day investigators.
The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on April 26, 2016.
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