Funds that Support Child Advocacy Residential Lab (RSL)

Mobile courthouseAbove: Your gifts in action: A courtroom simulation is taking place on the campus of UIS, helping to prepare Illinois child advocacy specialists. Donors’ gifts to the program made the courtroom possible. Thank you!

The Child Advocacy Residential Lab program is underway

Great news! The first class of investigators, representing the central region of the state, completed their training on February 26, and a group from Cook County will also complete their required simulations this spring.

For those of you who have made gifts in support of this excellent program, we are happy to share that the program has used your gifts to pay for a mobile courtroom for the program, currently housed in the UIS television station.

Your gifts have made a difference, providing the means for an important element in the program.

Above you can see a mobile courtroom that Professor Dathan Powell and his students built. Betsy Goulet, Clinical Assistant Professor in Public Administration, says, “We met several times with Professor Dathan to design it and then he brought it to life!”

In a recent courtroom simulation of a Shelter Care Hearing, Judge John Mehlick presided and Judge Steve Nardulli acted as the defense attorney. Retired Assistant State’s Attorney Sheryl Essenburg resumed her role as Prosecutor and Ali Orr, a local Guardian Ad Litem, filled in that role.

You have a wonderful opportunity to improve child welfare services throughout Illinois!

To explain how you can be a part of something so big, consider this scenario:

Danielle is standing outside the door of a little house, hesitant to lift her hand and knock.

This is her first visit as a Child Protective Investigator from DCFS. A nurse at the hospital had called in a report about a child with bruises and a burn. Danielle has been given the task of investigating. She bites her lip.

Will she be able to connect with the mother and her boyfriend?
What will she do if there’s resistance?
What if she says the wrong thing?

This anxious scene occurs with almost every newly trained child welfare professional working in Illinois, whether for DCFS or private agencies.

Classroom training just isn’t enough—only about 10-15% of training content transfers from the classroom to the workplace.

Good news! UIS has an answer to this dilemma—a residential simulation lab.

The Child Advocacy Studies program (CAST) at UIS acquired a small house where students can literally walk up to a door like Danielle did, but with a chance to practice encounters like Danielle’s in as realistic an environment as possible followed by quick and helpful feedback.

Up and running, there’s little doubt that Illinois agencies will take advantage of the simulation lab for many years to come.

Just one problem—and this is where you come in.

To be used in training, the little house needs (most critically) a new septic tank and plumbing, and for that, we need the help of people who want to improve child welfare services throughout Illinois.

Will you be one of these special people?

You could also make a gift today in support of this important endeavor.

For questions, please contact Dr. Betsy Goulet by email at or by phone at 217-206-8523.

Thank you!