Hi everyone! As we quite literally close the books on 2021, I’m grateful to the Dean’s office for the chance to update colleagues about some of the work we are doing in the CAST program and the amazing opportunities we have at UIS to innovate and imagine new ways to connect with our students. For nearly six years the College of Public Affairs and Administration has been home to our Child Advocacy Studies Curriculum, an interdisciplinary and interdepartmental certificate program. And did I mention that of the nearly 85 CAST programs nationwide, we hold the unique distinction of being the only program housed in Public Administration!
This past semester, we launched the new CAST Minor and will be welcoming our first students in the Spring. The CAST electives draw students from numerous degree programs (PSY, CCJ, SWK, TEP, LES, HDC & HMS) many of whom will pursue careers working with at risk children and families. CAST students leave the University better equipped to detect and report suspicions of child maltreatment, understanding their responsibilities as mandated reporters and what it requires to work at the frontlines of child protection. Employers recognize CAST students as having gained knowledge “above and beyond” and see this advanced preparation as a critical skill for working in the field, whether it is law enforcement, mental health, education or child welfare.
The CAST program at UIS was the second curriculum in the country to receive national approval in 2016 by the Zero Abuse Project, an advocacy organization for professionals who share the mission to “protect children from abuse and sexual assault, by engaging people and resources through a trauma-informed approach of education, research, advocacy, and advanced technology.” CAST courses combine critical research and best practices with simulation and case scenarios, bringing our students into the Residential Simulation Lab and Mock Courtroom. UIS is also home to the Child Protection Training Academy, a statewide partnership with DCFS to train new child protection investigators, supervisors and multidisciplinary team members. Many of you have no doubt driven past our little house in the cornfield, possibly wondering how we introduce simulation training to our students.
Each semester we provide trauma-informed simulation scenarios for our colleagues across the campus – shout out to Dr. Tiffany Nielson in HDC for always building in a simulation in her syllabus each semester. This past October, Tiffany introduced her colleague Dr. Tim Hakenewerth to our simulation training and he and his students joined us inside the house for our new training case “The Night Before.” If you have an idea for a simulation for your students, please reach out – we develop new cases and scenarios quite frequently, even working with our colleagues in Athletic Training to develop a mandated reporter scenario that focused on a trainer’s suspicions of abuse (shout out to Dr. Celest Weuve). Our students consistently report that they learn so much more through the scenarios and interactions in the simulation labs and our UIUC evaluation team at the Children and Family Research Center has established an entire section of their website for their publications about our simulation training. We would love to collaborate with you and your students – looking forward to the expansion of experiential learning in 2022!
Dr. Betsy Goulet is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the UIS Child Advocacy Studies Program (CAST) in the School of Public Management and Policy located in the UIS College of Public Affairs and Administration. In her appointment with the Center for State Policy and Leadership, Dr. Goulet is the Director of the Alliance for Experiential Problem-Based Learning. For over thirty years, Dr. Goulet has worked in child protection, serving as the founding director of the Sangamon County Child Advocacy Center and working as the Children’s Policy Advisor to the Illinois Attorney General. She also started the State Chapter of Children’s Advocacy Centers in Illinois and served as the organization’s first president. From 2002 – 2008 Dr. Goulet worked for the National Children’s Alliance as a Membership Specialist, conducting accreditation site reviews for Children’s Advocacy Centers across the country.