Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) is a nationally recognized curriculum to train students how to effectively address child abuse and neglect in real world applications through Multidisciplinary Team coordination. Successful completion of these courses will enable students to identify child abuse and neglect, report child maltreatment appropriately, and become a viable community team member in the prevention and remediation of child maltreatment. The current Multidisciplinary Team approach to family/victim advocacy, forensic interviews, investigations, service provision, prevention, community education and prosecutions is actively modeled in skill building activities throughout the courses. Child maltreatment and other adverse childhood experiences have been shown to adversely affect human development, which adds to a host of societal problems. The CAST program's goal is to work with our community as a whole to eradicate child maltreatment in the years to come.
The CAST curriculum focuses on interdisciplinary, ethical, realistic and culturally sensitive content that provides professionals a foundation for responding to child maltreatment. Students learn about the various disciplinary responses to child maltreatment and will develop a multidisciplinary understanding of the most efficient responses. Students completing the courses in the program will be better equipped to accomplish the work of related agencies (social work, criminal justice, nursing, etc.) as they advocate on behalf of child victims and survivors of child maltreatment.
Courses replicate the multidisciplinary approach to responding to child abuse, which is implemented on the local level. Schools emphasize experiential learning through the course work. Many schools have elected to create mock houses or mock courtrooms to enhance the learning experience.
A CAST program is not difficult to add to the university or college academic program. The courses may already exist and only need an infusion of CAST curriculum with organization into a CAST certificate or minor program. The certificate is approved and offered by Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center. Course names and titles listed above are those that other schools have used. The institution can number and title the course to fit the individual system. Mississippi has a network of participating institutions that are sharing ideas, successes and helping each other.