Thursday, April 30, 2020

UIS and DCFS Partner To Reimagine Child Welfare For A Socially Distant Reality

Betsy Goulet has worked to help and protect children since the late 80s.

After a brief stint as a Child Protective Investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, she went on to found such groups as the Sangamon County Child Advocacy Center and advise public leaders on at-risk youth and victims of childhood violence.

She’s now a faculty member at the University of Illinois Springfield, and is promoting a training program called the Child Protection Training Academy. It’s designed to retain new DCFS investigators that often leave the position after a few years by preparing them for what they may face in a client’s home.

Goulet believes state investigators are more crucial than ever in the COVID-19 era, and the type of training the Academy provides might be able to keep department ranks strong.

“We know that calls are down nationally to the hotline. And that's attributable, I'm sure, to the fact that kids are not at school, and so they're lacking those eyes and ears. Teachers are among the highest level of reporters to the hotline and so without their observation, without their notification, children aren't being reported. But calls are still coming in and investigators are still doing in-person meetings as best they can to protect themselves and to the people that they're interacting with.”

“Right now, we are meeting almost every day as an academy team with our DCFS colleagues to figure out how to improve training, how to translate what is usually on-ground simulation training to an online environment. And so we've been teaching problem based learning, we've been coming up with some other types of in-services that we can give to the field. But I am quite impressed with how the department has adapted to what is normally not an easy task. This is reimagining child welfare in a pretty vast way.”

This story aired on NPS Illinois on April 29, 2020.

Read and listen to the entire story.