Penn State offers new minor in Child Maltreatment and Advocacy Studies

This fall, Penn State students have the opportunity to delve deeper into the concentration of child protection with a new, intercollege minor in Child Maltreatment and Advocacy Studies (CMAS).

The minor, approved July 17 by the University's Board of Trustees, was created and facilitated by the Penn State Child Maltreatment Solutions Network and was developed by a team of faculty members from eight different colleges with a wide variety of academic specializations.

The goal of the minor is to create a foundational knowledge of the causes, detection and reporting processes of child maltreatment in order to better prepare students for careers that serve children in many settings. The interdisciplinary curriculum focuses on a theoretical and practical understanding of maltreatment and advocacy. Students who complete the minor will receive a formal Child Advocacy Studies (CAST) certification. The CAST certificate is widely recognized in the field as enhancing competitiveness for positions within child-welfare agencies, and can also be an advantage for students applying to graduate programs.

“The CMAS minor is an unprecedented educational opportunity that will help equip undergraduates to be competitive for entry-level jobs in the child welfare system as well as a multitude of graduate programs,” said Jennie Noll, professor in human development and family studies and director of the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network. “We hope to help train the next generation of those who work to protect and advocate for the safety of children.”

The minor is open to all undergraduate students, but may be of particular interest to those in education, psychology, law enforcement, social services or medical professions — fields that commonly come into contact with children.

Penn State is the first school in the Big Ten and one of the first in the nation to devote 18 credits to an undergraduate minor of this kind.

The CMAS minor offers expertise from a diverse range of departments. Courses were designed in collaboration with biobehavioral health; human development and family studies; psychology; sociology and criminology; education psychology, counseling, and special education; forensic science; agricultural economics; nursing; medicine; and the Office of Undergraduate Education.

Four core courses, adding up to 12 credits, provide an educational base for understanding the issues and actions surrounding child maltreatment. The final six credits, two elective courses, allow a student to explore more specific options that may align with their professional goals.

The minor will be rounded off with a capstone course in which students will apply their knowledge to field work, research or other areas that engage child services.

“We are excited to offer this new intercollege minor that is specifically focused on child protection. Our aim is to help students further their educational goals and explore their interests while helping to promote child advocacy,” said Sandee Kyler, assistant director at the Network.

Registration for the minor will soon be available on eLion and interested students can find more information and a list of courses here.