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UCF Trains Child Abuse Investigators

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By Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala

The University of Central Florida will begin training those who are responsible for investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect in Orange, Osceola and Brevard counties beginning today. 

UCF's School of Social Work landed a four-year $1.3 million contract from the Florida Department of Children and Families to develop materials and train its new child protective investigators and supervisors. UCF staff members also will help current investigators get recertified, which is required every three years. At least 200 people will receive the training. 

"There is no more important job than helping ensure our families are healthy and our children stay safe," said Professor John Ronnau, the director of the School of Social Work at UCF who is leading the project. "Child Protective Investigators serve our most vulnerable population. This is an opportunity for UCF to help these dedicated people do their jobs by providing the best training and resources possible." 

The UCF-designed program combines classroom instruction, computer laboratory sessions, supervised field training activities, personal observation, on-line distance learning, direct feedback and one-on-one consultation. It meets all DCF requirements for material that must be covered to get an investigator ready for the job.

All people involved with the development of the program will go through an extensive background check and will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement because they will be involved with sensitive and private documents regarding minors.

Training of new investigators begins Jan. 4 at the UCF Cocoa campus. Other sessions will be offered on the UCF South Orlando campus.

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