Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $446,059)
There is a significant and growing body of research documenting the poor undergraduate and graduate training of criminal justice, child protection, and medical and mental health professionals to address key aspects of child abuse. Unless this training is received on the job, when the skills are most needed, many of these professionals may go their entire careers lacking the necessary skills to investigate, prosecute, treat, or otherwise respond to the needs of child abuse victims or offenders. When universities and other institutions of higher education fail to teach practical information to the child protection professionals of tomorrow, these professionals must instead learn on the job with the lives and wellbeing of children hanging in the balance. In 2003, WSU received an award from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to develop a program called the National Child Protection Training Center (NCPTC), Through NCPTC, WSU developed model undergraduate and graduate training, and designed an interdisciplinary minor called Child Advocacy Studies (CAST). CAST has now spread to every region of the country, with 85 programs nationwide. To ensure that child protection personnel and other mandated reporters receive evidence-based training on identifying and screening children for exposure to and experience of violence, Zero Abuse will implement the Building the Capacity of Undergraduate and Graduate Programs to Train Child Protection Personnel Project. To support OJJDP’s goal to increase the knowledge base of mandated reporters and child protection professionals by creating, enhancing, or expanding and distributing training on evidence-based methods for identifying and screening children for exposure to violence, Zero Abuse will: Examine the landscape to assess knowledge gaps on the frontlines in undergraduate and graduate postsecondary education; Formalize and expand Zero Abuse’s comprehensive plan for integrating new and enhanced training curricula into post-secondary education programs; and Develop and disseminate a comprehensive, evidence-based model for training child protection professionals and mandated reporters. The Project will increase child advocacy training opportunities in undergraduate and graduate programs, provide schools with ‘ready-to-deliver’ CAST Toolkits to support their training efforts, and support the integration of these trainings into degree and certificate-based tracks for child protection professionals.