The new training facility for the New York State Office of Children and Family Services is expected to be an economic driver for East Greenbush.

The 97,000 square foot facility is located at the site of a former Kmart on Columbia Turnpike.

It is home to a courthouse, apartment building, daycare center, and more. None of those are real but the simulations inside the new Human Services Training Center spaces are made to be as true-to-life as possible.

“It is so real that I’ve talked to people who’ve come out of that and their hearts are pounding,” said Beth McCarthy, trainer for the Office of Children and Family Services.

  • The Office of Children and Family Services hosted an open house for their new training facility Thursday
  • The building has several simulation rooms for workers to participate in hands-on training
  • Nearly 20,000 social service workers are expected to attend courses there in 2019

Nearly 20,000 social service workers are expected to undergo hands-on training there this year. This includes caseworkers, child welfare supervisors, juvenile justice professionals, and child abuse specialists.

“The case workers will come through and they’re assessing the home environment of the family,” said Maureen Hopper, a trainer.

This is only the second of its kind for service workers in the U.S. Training began at the facility in February and it took less than a year to build. A ribbon cutting was held Thursday.

“They can’t say enough things about the ability to actually be in the environment and practice the skills. It is just not the same as doing it in the classroom and sitting across the table from somebody. It’s just been amazing,” McCarthy said.

The aim is to help agencies better prepare workers, providing them with skills that, in some cases, could be life-saving.