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Child Advocacy Studies

Child Advocacy careers attract a number of our students, especially those in Forensic Psychology and the Clinical concentration.

Within the School of Psychology, our undergraduate students have the option of entering the CAST program. The CAST curriculum focuses on the interdisciplinary, ethical, realistic and culturally sensitive content that provides professionals working in child advocacy careers with a foundation for responding to child maltreatment. To develop our CAST certificate, faculty members received training from the National Child Protection Training Center, focusing on the best ways to decrease burnout and increase effectiveness for those in social work, criminal justice, nursing, and other child advocacy careers. 

While not a typical certificate program, the CAST program builds a knowledge base for students wanting to work on behalf of child victims or survivors of child abuse. Having the CAST program on your resume shows employers that you understand the difficulties inherent in these special cases. 

The following classes are required:

  • PSY 3551: Introduction to Child Advocacy. Here students learn about the field and history of child advocacy, the legal framework for child maltreatment cases, and how various agencies work to identify and treat child abuse.
  • PSF 4551: Principles of Individual and Community Advocacy. Encompassing the field of victimology and victim studies, students will learn about all types of victims and the system’s responses at various levels. Students in the CAST program are required to center their paper and presentation topics around a child advocacy issue.
  • PSF 4791: Critical Issues in Child Advocacy. Run similar to a graduate student seminar, students are introduced to critical readings and reviews in the area and have guest lectures from individuals in the community with child advocacy careers or careers in which they have contact with child victims. The course culminates with a mock trial of a child abuse case.

Note: PSY 3531: Child Psychology is required prior to beginning the CAST course sequence.

Students are encouraged to speak to their academic advisors if child advocacy careers interest them – the course work for the certificate can be easily worked into most program plans without requiring a heavier course load or extra semesters. For example, the CAST program is built into the Forensic Psychology degree (through substitution of forensic psychology elective classes), and the Clinical concentration. Those in  Social-Cultural concentrations can make CAST fit by using some of their free electives.

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