New Training Center For Illinois Child Protection Workers In Springfield Is Dedicated

Apr 25, 2016

Child protection investigators in Illinois can now get hands-on training in the state's capitol.

People toured the residential simulation lab Monday. It trains child protection workers.
Credit Sarah Mueller WUIS

George Sheldon, director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, helped dedicate the training center Monday at the University of Illinois Springfield.

The small blue house on the University of Illinois Springfield campus is no ordinary home. It's a training center for state child protection investigators.Looking inside the house on the Springfield campus, it appears to be home to a troubled family. Pill bottles litter tables and shelves. There's some, fortunately rubber, cockroaches. These are the clues case workers are expected to notice. Volunteers play family members who can be helpful, or not. The training center also has a mock courtroom where case workers experience the legal process.

  Sheldon said this immersive training is critical to help case workers who will have to decide whether to remove children from the home.

"Training needs to be more than just a textbook," he said."That's what this house does and that's what the simulation in the courtroom does."

Clues such as rubber cockroach and empty cough syrup bottle in child protection training center.
Credit Sarah Mueller WUIS

Victor Vieth, who founded a child protection training center in Minnesota, echoed Sheldon's comments on case workers needing better training. Vieth said caseworkers are expected to make decisions, such as whether a child should be removed from the home, with inadequate training.

"A number of studies say that on average your child protection professional... receives 1-to-4 hours of training," he said.

Since the training center opened in February, more than 60 state workers have trained there.A tree near the house was planted Monday to honor a boy who died because of abuse from family members and errors made by child protection workers.