By Naeisha Rose
The Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) unveiled its plan for its first-ever simulation training sites in Harlem and Jamaica for child welfare workers last week, according to the city agency.
The state-of-the-art training facility in Queens will open at 92-31 Union Hall St. in 2019, according to ACS in a Nov. 26 announcement. The site in Manhattan will also open the same year.
The purpose of the simulation is to help caseworkers better detect cases of abuse with flexible training for large numbers of its staff in intimate and practical ways, according to the ACS, which investigates 60,000 reports annually of neglect or abuse across New York City.
“Our Child Protective Specialists are the first responders for New York City’s children when they may be in danger, and they need the same state-of-the-art training experiences that other first responders have access to,” said ACS Commissioner David A. Hansell. “Our new simulation centers will give future child welfare workers a realistic sense of what it’s like to conduct home visits during investigations, interview parents and children, and testify in court.”
The training simulation at Union Hall Street will include mock apartments, a mock courtroom, a mock detention center and mock interview room using actors and retired city family court judges, according to CPS. Further exercises will align welfare workers with first responders like police officers and firefighters.
Training for frontline CPS workers has expanded from 41 days to five months either on the field or at the James Satterwhite Academy, and there are more than 2,000 welfare workers on the field that have been trained with upgraded technology including high-speed safe tablets and “Safe Measures” software, which can automatically identify and flag high-risk cases that need additional review by managerial staff, according to ACS.
“An in-depth analysis was conducted to determine location based on accessibility and proximity to transportation,” said an ACS spokeswoman. “There is a large borough office in Union Hall and the Satterwhite Academy is already there, so this was an opportunity to expand.”
The James Satterwhite Academy is where CPS workers get some of their training and going forward they will receive two months of training at Union Hall and three months of training on the field, according to ACS.
Since last year newly hired CPS workers have participated in training at the NYPD Police Academy to help strengthen investigative skills, according to the agency.
The Union Hall and Harlem sites, which will be on 125th Street in Manhattan, will accommodate training of over 11,000 staff members combined, both training centers will hold simulations simultaneously and will be able to train up to 250 people at one time, according to the agency.
The sets for the simulation will be mobile to meet different needs and will be used by child protective specialists, juvenile justice youth development specialists, foster care case planners, prevention staff and their supervisors, according to ACS.
ACS has also re-launched its quality improvement process, created a new Quality Assurance Unit for high-risk families, hired more than 600 new specialists, and have included ZipCars “local motion technology” so that specialists can respond even faster to reports of neglect under Hansell’s sweeping reforms.
New improvements also include a Heightened Oversight Protocol on reports involving physical or sexual abuse of children under three, and increased collaboration with the Department of Education, the Department of Homeless Services and other city agencies.
“Robust and realistic training is critical for ensuring that children across New York City are safe, which is why we’ve expanded training over the last year and why we’re building these new sites,” said Hansell.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose