Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $446,059)
The Child Advocacy Studies (CAST) Consortium will strengthen the knowledge base and skill sets of mandated reporters who make up the child-serving workforce, thus, making it possible to reduce the economic and social costs of high turnover in the sector and improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families. The CAST Consortium is composed of institutions and leaders with expertise in child protection, curriculum development and dissemination, post-secondary instruction, and statewide and national program implementation. The Consortium will focus on the target population of emerging and current mandated reporters enrolled across the spectrum of postsecondary education (e.g. community colleges, four year colleges and universities, pre-service training academies, professional continuing education). Curriculum and other resources will be tailored to support and meet the needs of these child serving professionals not only during their post-secondary education journeys, but also during critical transition junctures between their educational and vocational milestones (e.g. moving from a community college to a four-year institution, entry into the workforce following degree completion). The Consortium will conduct a needs assessment using modern techniques such as data scraping to better understand the current status of existing course offerings across the country in fields related to child protection and child advocacy. Survey results and follow up semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders will help Consortium leaders create a plan to develop, implement and disseminate relevant educational resources to targeted audiences such as instructors and students in post-secondary institutions, training academies for police and child protection, and local multidisciplinary teams connected with child advocacy centers. Curricular products to be developed or enhanced include Problem Based Learning Simulations (PBL-S) and simulation modules related to child advocacy. PBL-S is an innovative experiential pedagogy that allows participants to apply knowledge and practice skills in as realistic of an environment as possible. Simulation modules aimed at teaching learners how to choose, administer, and utilize data from evidence based methods for screening children for their exposure to violence will also be created. Other resources to be developed include “plug and play” instructional modules with embedded resources and templates ready to be inserted in post-secondary Learning Management Systems, and educational and workforce transition products. The Consortium will utilize their existing networks to disseminate these resources through in person and virtual demonstrations, as well as learning communities shown to be effective at sustaining new practices and procedures.