University's Child Advocacy program 'will serve as a model'

Montclair State University is doing its utmost to make sure that children are safe and secure. The University is doing such a good job that Charles Venti, director of the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services, came to campus recently to meet students and faculty involved in the new Post-B.A. Certificate in Child Advocacy program, offered by MSU's Graduate School. Venti also met with Montclair State President Dr. Susan A. Cole.

The new program's 18-credit curriculum prepares individuals to work as child advocates in a variety of settings. The program, which began this spring, has received funding from DYFS. Twenty-two students enrolled in the program work for DYFS or CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), or serve on child placement review boards.

"Our curriculum will serve as a model for professionals working in the field," said Robert D. McCormick of MSU's Psychology and Justice Studies department and director of the program.

"Few colleges and universities offer courses in child advocacy. Fewer still offer programs that would give students the necessary preparation to serve as advocates."

"This program is relevant, especially for people in child welfare professions," Venti said. "It gives them the necessary tools to assist them in accessing services for children and families in need. Students will increase their current skills and learn new ones to ensure that communities and government organizations provide the type of services children need."

The curriculum is multidisciplinary, incorporating perspectives from law, psychology and sociology. Courses include child psychology, children's rights and child advocacy, contemporary issues in child advocacy, selected topics in justice studies, clinical interviewing and forensic psychology. Faculty who teach in the program are selected based on their experiences as child advocates and are noted experts in their respective fields.

For more information on the program, call McCormick at (973) 655-4408.