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Published March 13, 2024

What Makes the "iLookOut for Child Abuse" Course Evidence-Based

Better training solutions can lead to better reporting not just more reporting.

By Mandated Reporter Academy


Every year, child welfare organizations in the United States receive millions of reports of suspected child maltreatment. Of these reports, only a small percentage conclude that children are victims of abuse or neglect. This has resulted in widespread debate over the effectiveness of laws that require the reporting of suspected child abuse laws by almost anyone who comes in contact with children when working or volunteering.

This is where better training solutions can lead to better reporting not just more reporting. Training can help mandated reporters truly identify what is and what is not child abuse and how to go about reporting properly identified cases.  

In this context, let’s look at how the iLookOut for Child Abuse course from Mandated Reporter Academy. was developed and why it's considered evidence-based. The iLookOut development team combined subject matter and learning design research to create a course that would have a measurable learning outcome. To measure the learning outcome required the team to follow strict research standards.  

What Is Evidence-Based Training? 

Evidence-based training refers to instructional programs or courses developed using scientific research and proven methodologies. It is a systematic approach that ensures the effectiveness of the training in achieving its intended outcome. The goal of the iLookOut team was to create an evidence-based program focused on improving reports of child abuse that result in protecting children while preventing the reporting of conditions that are not considered abuse. 

iLookOut for Child Abuse: An Evidence-Based Mandated Reporter Training Solution

Mandated reporters play a critical role in identifying and reporting instances of child abuse. These employees and volunteers who come in contact with children can ensure that children in an abusive situation can receive the help they need. 

What sets iLookOut apart from other training programs is its evidence-based approach. But what does "evidence-based" mean exactly? To be considered evidence-based, the training development process needed to include empirical data, measurable outcomes, innovative training methods and continuous evaluation and modification. 

Empirical Data and Measurable Outcomes

The iLookOut curriculum in Mandated Reporter Academy was developed and modified based on a significant study funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The study looked at staff and volunteers at licensed childcare centers in Maine. There were 1,152 participants enrolled in the study and 1,094 of them completed pre- and post-training exercises that captured data. Participants were divided into two groups. One group completed standard online training, while another group completed the iLookOut training program.  At the end of the study, it was found that individuals who took the iLookOut training had greater changes in knowledge and attitudes about the subject matter than those that completed the standard online mandated reporter training.  

Interactive Elements

Map of number of training components

Other studies have shown that iLookOut is evidence based because it has more innovative features, such as gamification and microlearning, than other available mandated reporter training solutions. By incorporating different methods of instruction into the program design, participants are more likely to retain information effectively. Studies gave a summary of the iLookOut training’s interactive elements such as: 

  • A video-based storyline
  • Game-based techniques
  • Interactive learning experiences 

Individuals undergoing the training are provided materials and given questions. They can apply the new knowledge they learn during the training. This allows for a chance to practice decision-making.  

Continuous Evaluation

Ongoing evaluation efforts allow continuous improvement based on user feedback and assessment results. As new research emerges or trends shift within the field of child protection services arise, the iLookOut team has kept the course up-to-date with current best practices. 

Another study, titled “Identifying what works for whom…” is used to inform ongoing updates and upgrades to the iLookOut course.  The research study used structural equation models to test whether learner demographic and professional characteristics were differentially associated with implementation outcomes. The results showed that implementation outcomes are important drivers of knowledge change for most groups. The iLookOut Core Training’s use of a multimedia learning environment, video-based storylines, and game-based techniques were endorsed by learners and correlated with increases in knowledge. 

As learners continue to take iLookOut  training through Mandated Reporter Academy or as part of an academic study, the results will be evaluated and integrated into ongoing improvements and customizations of the course. 

Partner With Us for Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Training

The iLookOut for Child Abuse course is an evidence-based training program now available through Mandated Reporter Academy. The training solutions was developed and modified based on research and best practices ensuring that participants receive accurate information and practical strategies to identify and report child abuse and neglect. 

To inquire about partnerships or learn more about Mandated Reporter Academy, email or call 717-836-0270. Mandated Reporter Academy can be customized to meet the specific requirements of your state or institution.

Contact us to learn more about our comprehensive mandated reporter online training solution. 

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