The Child Advocacy Studies (CAST) Minor started at Winona State University in Winona, Minn. The curriculum brings the vision of Zero Abuse Project to reality by providing students with real-world experience in a classroom setting.
CAST focuses on developing students' understanding of the various factors that lead to child maltreatment and of various existing responses to incidents of child maltreatment, so they work more effectively within various systems and institutions that respond to these incidents. Students learn about the various disciplinary responses to child maltreatment and develop a multidisciplinary understanding of the most effective responses. Students completing the courses in this program will be better equipped to carry out the work of various agencies and systems (healthcare, criminal justice, social services) as they advocate on behalf of the needs of children as victims and survivors of child abuse.
Universities seldom prepare students for the reality of child protection. Successful professional training will produce child maltreatment professionals who will be knowledgeable enough to competently manage child maltreatment cases. Beginning in college, we must produce an army of front line workers well equipped to organize all the players in their local communities for the benefit of children.
Each member of the CAST front line has experience interviewing, on a witness stand testimony, conducting a home visit and planning case management. While these experiences increase professional competency, the most compelling reason to provide this training is that it may prevent a child maltreatment case from being mishandled or overlooked.