The University of Illinois Springfield Child Protection Training Academy, part of the UIS Alliance for Experiential Problem-Based Learning, has been awarded $720,000 in federal appropriations to increase the number of trained frontline child protection and law enforcement professionals. The funding will be used to support simulation training at the Child Protection Training Academy at UIS and a partnership with Southern Illinois University (SIU) Carbondale.
The funds were secured by U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, through Congressionally-directed spending for Illinois projects in the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) Omnibus appropriations bill.
Currently, the UIS Child Protection Training Academy hosts trainings for Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) investigators and supervisors through a state contract. The federal funding will allow UIS to offer simulation training for the first time to multidisciplinary team members who coordinate and investigate child abuse through Children’s Advocacy Centers across Illinois.
Those taking part in the training will experience working a child maltreatment case in a simulation lab, from disclosure through court, interacting with family members (actors provided by the SIU School of Medicine and Carbondale) and seasoned child protection professionals and simulation facilators.
“The UIS Alliance for Experiential Problem-Based Learning and the Child Protection Training Academy team are extremely excited to work in partnership with SIU to develop the first statewide simulation training for multidisciplinary teams at Children’s Advocacy Centers,” said Betsy Goulet, clinical assistant professor and director of the UIS Alliance for Experiential Problem-Based Learning as well as the coordinator of the UIS Child Advocacy Studies Program (CAST). “We look forward to working with Children’s Advocacy Centers of Illinois to bring the teams to our simulation labs for a trauma-informed training with a coordinated response to child maltreatment. We are grateful to Senator Durbin for his support for this training.”
The funding will also support new positions on the UIS and SIU Carbondale campuses for simulation training facilitation and technical support.
“The University of Illinois Springfield has established itself as a leader in training front line child protection workers and first responders,” Durbin said. “This new federal investment will bolster training programs at the Child Protection Training Academy at UIS and a partnership with Southern Illinois University Carbondale, allowing additional professionals to receive critical simulation training. That’s why I secured this funding—to ensure that resources are being directed to better protect children in Illinois.”
The UIS Child Protection Training Academy was established in February 2016, through a partnership with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). UIS worked with DCFS to enact state legislation supporting the use of simulation training in child welfare. The UIS Child Protection Training Academy has trained more than 1,000 new child protection investigators since it opened and expanded the model to Chicago in April 2019.
UIS is collaborating with SIU Carbondale to host the trainings for Children's Advocacy Centers in southern Illinois, bringing SIU students into the simulation experiences.
“I am grateful that Senator Durbin has secured funding that will allow the University of Illinois and SIU Carbondale to collaborate on enhancing services of child advocates through a local Child Protection Training Academy,” said Southern Illinois University Carbondale Chancellor Austin Lane. “In addition to helping provide a critical service to the region, this partnership allows for invaluable experiential learning opportunities for our students.”
The UIS Child Protection Training Academy’s training model is now being used nationally with the program boasting six years of evidence-based practice, four research publications and five years of evaluation data.
The UIS Alliance for Experiential Problem-Based Learning, established in June 2021, combines evidence-based practices within a simulation environment for addressing complex, multi-layered problems.
For more information, contact Betsy Goulet at 217-206-8523 or firstname.lastname@example.org.