Child Advocacy Studies (CAST) certification program at the University of Illinois Springfield has been named one of only three Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center approved programs in the United States.
The UIS CAST certification program was started in the spring semester of 2015 and utilizes a Residential Simulation Lab and the mock courtroom on campus to teach students how to better protect at-risk children and families.
“Many of our graduates pursue careers in professions where they are statutorily required to report child maltreatment,” said Betsy Goulet, a UIS clinical assistant professor and CAST coordinator. “The Child Advocacy Studies curriculum was developed to insure that our students begin their careers prepared to identify, report and respond to allegations of child maltreatment.”
The Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center, located at Winona State University in Minnesota, first developed the CAST curriculum in 2004 as a collaborative approach to training and educating the next generation child welfare practitioners.
“The University of Illinois Springfield has quickly established itself as a pioneer in educating future child protection professionals,” said Victor Vieth, founder and senior director of the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center. “Equally impressive, the university is taking a leadership role in implementing similar reforms around the nation, even the world. It is increasingly clear that the future of child protection runs through the University of Illinois Springfield.”
In order to achieve Gundersen’s approval, the UIS CAST certification program had to complete a site visit, show that faculty had completed Gundersen’s training program and that course content closely models the original training program.
There are currently 92 students enrolled in the CAST program at UIS for the spring semester of 2017. The certification consists of three elective courses offered most semesters online and on ground. Students who complete the program are eligible for a certification from the National Child Protection Training Center.
“The demand for this training has been so high that we are working with the Psychology Department to develop a Child Advocacy Studies minor,” said Goulet.
The Residential Simulation Lab and the mock courtroom on campus are also utilized to train Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) investigators and other first responders. The Child Protection Training Academy has already trained nearly 200 DCFS investigators.
Founded in 2003, the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center has been recognized as a national leader in child abuse prevention education. Besides UIS, other Gunderson approved training facilities are located at the University of South Carolina Upstate and Pennsylvania State University.
For more information on the CAST certificate program, contact Betsy Goulet at 217/206-8523 or firstname.lastname@example.org.