(KMOV) –Every year, more than three-million reports are made in the United States, involving nearly six-million children.The St. Louis area will soon be equipped with a new tool to help battle the terrible epidemic.
On Friday, UMSL will hold the grand opening for its new Children’s Advocacy Services location in Kirkwood.
The home will serve as a training exercise to teach UMSL students and professionals on how to spot the warning signs.
News 4’s Sharon Reed got an exclusive, firsthand look at the home and to see what it would be like to be a social worker or a police officer trying to protect children.
“I really wasn’t prepared for what I would find inside,” Reed said
Jerry Dunn, Executive Director of Children’s Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis followed Sharon as she moved through the mock home.
Reed was told a scenario before entering the home explaining that the family who supposedly lived there recently moved to the area from Illinois. The 27-year-old mother, 28-year-old father, five-year-old daughter, 18-month-old son and an infant all lived in this staged home.
“What's really sad, this mock house, these simulations are based on real life situations my staff has walked into,” Dunn said.
Reed noticed prescription pill bottles with labels that did not match the family’s name, drugs, dead mice, dirty diapers, adult items and weapons within a child’s reach.
it is very upsetting and I think that is part of why we constructed the house in such a way that our child advocacy students coming from a variety of fields so we can be here this first time when they are upset,” Dunn added.
Dunn said this is invaluable in training social workers, children psychologists and police officers of the future to help them as investigators. The home is also meant to help with learning how to cope.
The new site will help CAS better meet the needs of the area as well as provide a unique training tool for UMSL students. They will be able to sharpen their skills as investigators, learning to deal with children and families in crisis, and in this controlled environment they will learn how to deal with their emotions.
This is the fourth house of its kind in the country.
Click here to see the firsthand walk-through of the staged home.