ACS Launches Simulator Aimed at Training Child Welfare Workers

A simulated kitchen and dining room. Photos courtesy of the Administration for Children’s Services.

A simulated kitchen and dining room. Photos courtesy of the Administration for Children’s Services.

By Jonathan Sperling

For child welfare specialists, it’s just like the real deal.

The first-ever series of simulated training sites for child welfare workers will soon provide “on the job” training for Child Protective Specialists on the front lines in Queens and Manhattan, the Administration For Children’s Services (ACS) revealed last week.

Mock apartments, a courtroom and a detention center — just a few of the settings often encountered by child welfare workers throughout their duties — will be on display at the simulation centers, located at Union Hall in Jamaica and Harlem. Together, the centers will see the training of more than 11,000 staff members employed in the child welfare sector.

“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 Commissioner David A.


Each simulation center will be able to accommodate up to 250 trainees at a time, with mobile furniture and training sets allowing for the accommodation of “diverse needs.”

“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,” said Hansell. “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.”

Inspiration for the simulation sites, according to Hansell, comes in part from other first responders, such as the FDNY and NYPD, which already have access to simulated training sites.

At the police academy, for example, prospective police officers go through scenario-based training that takes them through “mock-environment training rooms,” including a precinct station house, multi-family residence, grocery store, restaurant, park, court room, bank, a subway car and subway platform.

Since 2017, newly-hired CPS agents have participated in training at the police academy to reinforce their investigative skills, according to ACS.