The Department of Social Work and Child Advocacy at Montclair State University offers the region’s premier undergraduate and graduate academic programs that specialize in service and advocacy to children, youth and families. Our unique focus, small size graduate classes and distinguished faculty give students an unrivaled opportunity to prepare for work as career professionals serving children and families.
The Online Master of Arts in Child Advocacy and Policy offers students an applied course of study in child advocacy. As an emerging field, child advocacy includes an understanding of several disciplines: psychology, social work, and law. The master’s degree offers advanced coursework focused on family empowerment, forensic interviewing, child abuse, families in crisis, child welfare, and advocacy policy. Students will acquire a comprehensive view of the field of child advocacy that includes both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary components; a particular understanding of the intricacies of the public child welfare system; and competencies in knowledge, methods and applications needed for careers and professional development in the field of child advocacy.
As an alternative to the full master’s degree, students may choose to apply for the Child Advocacy and Policy Certificate. The certificate includes five courses which can be completed fully online or on campus in 2.5 semesters.
The certificate provides students with the foundational knowledge to begin a career as a child advocacy professional and prepares students for future graduate study in child advocacy. Upon successful completion of the certificate, students may transfer all 15 credits towards the Master of Arts in Child Advocacy and Policy, in accordance with all related graduate policy.
What to expect as you move toward attaining your degree:
- All coursework can be completed online.
- Course content and course schedules are geared toward working professionals.
- Affordable tuition rate
- Three terms per year (fall, spring and summer)
- Eight week courses that blend theory and practice
- Interaction between your peers and faculty
- Full access to student support services including online library resources, Tier II technical support and career advising
For the MA in Child Advocacy, you must complete 33 credit hours. All courses are three credit hours. Students who have successfully completed the Child Advocacy certificate program will begin with CHAD 510. For additional information, please contact your advisor to discuss your program of study.
CHAD 501 Introduction to Child Advocacy
This course will examine the maltreatment of children from both a historical and contemporary perspective. It will discuss the three major reform movements of the Progressive Era that shaped the field of child advocacy. Students will also explore recent trends in legislation that affect abused and neglected children. Emphasis will be on the historical and current role of the child advocate. Empirical and applied research will be reviewed. 3 sh.
CHAD 502 Child Abuse & Neglect
This course will take a comprehensive look at the social and psychological development of children caught in the child welfare system. It will compare normal and pathological models of child rearing. Special consideration will be given to the impact of family and social systems on the development and behavior of abused and neglected children. 3 sh.
CHAD 503 Current Social Issues in Child Advocacy
This course will focus on current social issues in the field of child advocacy. Poverty, drug abuse, illnesses and violence will be explored. Strategies for social change will be highlighted and discussed. 3 sh.
CHAD 504 Children and Justice
This course will provide students will a multisystems view of children’s rights and the justice system. Advocacy protocols and practice will be examined. Confidentiality, expert-testimony and child abuse reporting laws will be studied. 3 sh.
CHAD 505 Forensic Interviewing of Children
This course will provide students with an understanding of various theoretical and applied models for interviewing children who may have been abused. Recent research on the communication process and the significance of integrating age-appropriate interviewing strategies and child development will be explored. Appropriate models for interviewing children of diverse backgrounds will be presented. 3 sh. Prerequisites: CHAD 501.
CHAD 510 Culturally Competent Practice in Child Advocacy
This course will explore the three major components of cultural competency necessary for effective child advocacy: value base, knowledge and skills. The course will focus on enabling students to examine the values that are necessary for a culturally competent understanding and response to children and families, specifically accepting the existence of biases and developing a commitment to strengths-based models that rely on respect for diversity and working toward empowerment as a goal for intervention. Culture is defined broadly, and the course will expose students to a range of belief systems common in different groups concerning child rearing, child maltreatment, and health and mental health. Students will work on issues in interviewing and engaging children and families from different cultural groups. 3 sh. Prerequisites: CHAD 501.
CHAD 521 Substance Abuse and Family Crisis
This course will explore the impact of substance abuse on families involved with the child welfare system. Current research regarding the connection between substance abuse, domestic violence and child abuse will be reviewed. Residential and outpatient models of treatment will be evaluated. 3 sh. Prerequisites: CHAD 501, CHAD 502, CHAD 503.
CHAD 522 Family Empowerment Models
This course will focus on techniques that will empower families in crisis. Model programs grounded in a strengths-based approach will be analyzed. Strategies to help families utilize their unique human and social capital to build community and kinship support systems will be discussed. 3 sh. Prerequisites: CHAD 501, CHAD 502, CHAD 503.
CHAD 540 Child Welfare Policy
The course will compare and contrast historical and contemporary trends in child welfare policy. Factors that contribute to legislative decision-making as well as the role of the media in shaping public opinion will be considered. Community perceptions of the child welfare system will be examined. 3 sh. Prerequisites: CHAD 501, CHAD 502, CHAD 503.
CHAD 602 Child Advocacy Policy and Practice
This course is designed to introduce students to concepts in social policy formation and implementation. Students will explore concepts, history and development of major federal and state legislation relating to children. In addition, students will understand how these laws are translated into local policies that influence the development of systems of service, funding authority and patterns of service delivery for children. Current debates about policies, financing, and structure and organization of service delivery will be discussed. The process of influencing policy for children will include the roles of various stakeholders, including the individual, the family, the community, educational settings, religious institutions, workplaces, the nonprofit sector and the government (local, state and federal). Throughout the course, the role of the child advocate in policy development, implementation, evaluation and amendment will be emphasized.
CHAD 603 Child Advocacy Research Methods and Evaluation
Through text, journal articles and various in class activities, students will develop essential critical thinking and research skills in the context of child advocacy. As fiscal constraints and demands for evidence-based practice increase, child advocates must be prepared to judge the value of empirical research as it relates to advocacy and practice, as well as design and implement needs assessment and program evaluation studies. This course will prepare students to be: 1) competent evaluators of their professional activities, whether in direct service, program development and implementation, or policy-based advocacy; 2) critical consumers of research in the social and behavioral sciences; and 3) active participants in the generation and contribution to knowledge through the design of research proposals. The major aim of this course is to provide students with essential critical thinking and analytic skills in the context of scientific inquiry and in application to their work as child advocates.
Child advocacy professionals work in a variety of settings:
- Child welfare agencies
- Child behavioral health services (case management organizations, youth case management programs, and mobile response and stabilization units)
- Prevention and community organizations
- Court appointed special advocates (CASA)
- Education advocacy groups
- Victim-witness offices/agencies
- Disability advocacy groups
- Domestic violence programs
- Youth mentoring and development programs
- Supervised visitation programs
Recent graduates from the Child Advocacy program are employed in many fields:
Guttenberg Public School District
SCO Family of Services
Bergen County Office for Children
NYC Department of Education
Department of Children Protection and Permanency (DCPP)
Division of Youth & Family Services
New Jersey Department of Children and Families
State of New Jersey
- Great Oaks Legacy Charter School