Mind the Gap #2: Simulation Labs for Child Welfare Education and Training

National Webinar held February 4, 2015Simulation Lab House
Learning Exchange held February 19, 2015

This webinar provides an overview of developing a Simulation Lab, an innovative technique being utilized with newly-hired children's services social workers in the Los Angeles area.

Simulation is a technique for education and training that has been used in many different disciplines, including aviation, the military, and medicine. It offers guided, immersive experiences that evoke or replicate aspects of the real world professional experience in a fully interactive fashion. The model in Los Angeles was first piloted in August 2013 at the Residential Simulation Lab at California State University - Los Angeles (Cal. State LA). Other simulation environments have been created at Cal State University, Long Beach (CSULB) and UCLA. A multi-disciplinary team consisting of University training faculty from these three Universities - along with USC - as well as Los Angeles County social workers, trainers, County Counsel, law enforcement consultants, and others - have worked together to design simulation exercises that promote, develop, and reinforce key social work skills (e.g. client engagement, critical thinking, assessment skills, interviewing techniques, decision-making, analysis, and problem solving).
Presenters will share strategies involved in creating and implementing this model, including training infrastructure (space, set design, resources), staffing and current efforts to evaluate the model's impact and effectiveness.

The child welfare workforce is a critical factor in strengthening vulnerable children, youth and families. We know there are gaps and challenges we must address to better develop and support the workforce in their challenging yet rewarding roles. This session and its follow-up Learning Exchange offer agencies, universities and partners the opportunity to learn more about a training and education innovation to help them more strategically intervene...and close the gap by better preparing social work students and new staff for the real world situations they will encounter in the child welfare field.

Presenters include:

  • Harkmore Lee, MSW, Director of the Center on Child Welfare at California State University, Los Angeles
  • Janae Mankowski, LCSW, Children Services Administrator with the Los Angeles County Department of Children & Family Services
  • Heidi Staples, MSW/BSW, Director of the Center on Child Welfare at UCLA


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