A key feature of experiential learning is the ability to construct environments that are as realistic as one would find working in the field. The University of Illinois Springfield, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), established the Residential Simulation Lab (a simulated training house) in 2016.

The two training labs (including a mock courtroom on the main campus) are designed to train students, investigators, law enforcement, and other first responders to identify and respond in cases of child maltreatment. The Residential Simulation Labs provide a safe learning environment that:

  • Allows trainees to practice their knowledge and skills in a supportive and safe environment where mistakes are allowed and can be corrected.
  • Helps to increase confidence and competency, which increases job retention.

“The goal of the partnership is to make it possible for child protection first responders and the next generation of child welfare workers to enter the field with the necessary skills to protect the most vulnerable of victims,” said UIS faculty member Dr. Betsy Goulet, coordinator of the Child Protection Training Academy.

The two labs are part of a DCFS Child Protection Training Academy program and were designed by the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership. They are supported by a state grant awarded to the University.