Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $880,841)
The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) will develop a certificate program to enhance current mandated reporter trainings by integrating content related to recognizing and addressing implicit bias in referrals for suspected child maltreatment. Racial disparities have long plagued child welfare across decision-making points, beginning with the initial referral to child protective services for suspected maltreatment. Considering the majority of child maltreatment referrals that come from the disciplines of healthcare, education, criminal justice, and social work, this certificate program will target current and future professionals in these four fields. The overarching goal of this project is to develop curricula to intertwine federal nondiscrimination policies and implicit bias recognition into trainings for mandated reporters on identification of child maltreatment. The following goals guide this project and, together, will help achieve the overarching goal: (1) build community infrastructure to support the certificate program; (2) identify evidence-based methods for screening children exposed to violence, child advocacy, and federal nondiscrimination obligations; (3) increase the availability of training in undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education programs; (4) improve preparedness of child and family-serving professionals about the scope and seriousness of children exposed to trauma; and (5) improve mandated reporters’ understanding of nondiscrimination civil rights obligations. To accomplish the goals, UTA will partner with the Texas Center for Child and Family Studies (TCCFS). This project is divided into four stages: (1) project installation, (2) needs assessment and exploration of curricula, (3) curricula development, and (4) curricula pilot. In year one of the project, the team will recruit an advisory board, install the project, and conduct the needs assessment. Based on gaps identified, the team will develop curricula in year two with active participation of the advisory board, including youth and families with lived experience. In year three, the team will integrate curricula into existing undergraduate and graduate courses and build continuing education trainings. The curricula will be piloted and refined accordingly. To enhance sustainability of the certificate program, the project will integrate trainings into coursework for undergraduate and graduate students in social work, healthcare, criminal justice, and education at UTA and have all courses accessible on a continuing education platform housed at TCCFS.