Thursday, February 27, 2020

UIS-developed Child Protection Training Academy to be replicated in southern Illinois

The Child Protection Training Academy (CPTA) first developed at the University of Illinois Springfield, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), will be replicated through a new partnership with the Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine.

The academy’s southern Illinois site will train DCFS, law enforcement and other frontline professionals in methods to better protect at-risk children from abuse in the southern region of the state.

The UIS CPTA was the first statewide simulation training project in the country that provided a child protection training laboratory for frontline professionals and students. Since its founding in 2016, the UIS CPTA in Springfield has trained more than 700 new child protection investigators using a residential simulation lab located in a small house on campus and a mock courtroom.

“The CPTA team is extremely excited to transfer the knowledge we have learned over the past four years to our partnership with SIU,” said Betsy Goulet, coordinator of the UIS Child Protection Training Academy. “The new academy site will expand opportunities and provide a realistic environment for training other allied professionals in the southern region.”

The UIS CPTA was awarded state funding for the expansion, after submitting a request to DCFS. The CPTA team, SIU School of Medicine leaders, the Poshard Foundation for Abused Children and community leaders are working together with DCFS to identify a physical location in proximity to the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus for the new simulation lab.

In partnership with DCFS, the CPTA expanded to Chicago in 2019 with simulation labs in a DCFS field office on Emerald Drive and 63rd Street. Since the program’s launch in April 2019, 102 investigators have been trained at the Chicago Academy site.

“Expanding to other parts of the state is a vital part of our plan to help protect all of the children in the state of Illinois,” Goulet said. “This expansion will give more child protection investigators and law enforcement personnel access to vital training that has proven itself to be effective.”

The Children and Family Research Center at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has been evaluating the UIS model since 2016, indicating positive responses to simulation training. The third year of evaluation data indicates the CPTA appears to be positively impacting turnover at DCFS. Non-simulation-trained investigators (hired before 2016) are twice as likely to leave DCFS at the 18-month mark versus investigators who have been simulation-trained.

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