Understanding and Advocating for Adolescents

An impassioned advocate for youth, Psychology Department Professor Robert McCormick helped establish the nation’s first Master of Arts program in Child Advocacy and Policy at Montclair State.

Under McCormick’s direction, the University’s Center for Child Advocacy administers several grants, including one for the New Jersey Child Welfare Training Partnership, which was formed by Montclair State and other universities to provide in-service training to child welfare staff throughout the state’s public child welfare system.

Now, with the help of a grant from the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P), McCormick is leading another groundbreaking University initiative: a Post-BA Certificate in Adolescent Advocacy.

“This innovative graduate-level program is the first to address the needs of the adolescent population,” says McCormick. “Teenagers are often a forgotten group within the child protective system. This program will help correct that.”

The program helps child welfare professionals understand and meet the unique needs of adolescents. A final seminar gives students the opportunity to apply what they have learned in a child welfare setting. “Students complete research assignments as part of the requirements for courses in the program,” McCormick notes.

Collaborating with the DCP&P Office of Adolescent Services, the center is initially offering the Post-BA Certificate to 40 DCP&P staff members with plans to open it up to all students in the spring of 2014. “We’re taking a transdisciplinary approach to address issues from abuse and neglect to aging out of child welfare systems,” McCormick says.

Students also will meet youth having personal experience in the child protection system.  

“This curriculum gives professionals the tools they need to be effective advocates for troubled teens and their families,” McCormick says.