Last Friday, I participated in USC Upstate’s Child Advocacy Center’s fifth annual conference…. “A Brighter Future….Ending Child Abuse through Advocacy and Education.”  The conference hosted 400 professionals in all areas of child protective services including legal, treatment, forensics, child advocacy, education and community services from not only across South Carolina but from across the region.  The conference was meaty.  The speakers are some of the best known in the field and leading the way in best practices.  And, frankly, they blew my ears back.  There is so much going on in research and program development.  And, yes, we have a long way still to go, but what I realized is that we have come so very far since I began as a green counselor in 1972.  The birth of advocacy centers.  The training in forensics.  The prevention.  The treatment.   Over the next several postings, I am going to be sharing some of this rich information.

It was a true privilege to have the Finding Voice project panels displayed at this conference and to have the opportunity to speak during lunch.  Survivor voices were being heard again!

Dr. Jennifer Parker is the Program Director for the Center for Child Advocacy Studies Program at USC Upstate and the Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.   I have been learning about the USC Upstate CAST program and at the conference I had an opportunity to talk with several of the faculty and CAST students.  They are “on fire” about this program and the opportunities that it offers.

The Child Advocacy Studies (CAST) minor is an interdisciplinary minor that provides comprehensive training to students who plan to work in a variety of areas serving children. The goal is to provide more comprehensive undergraduate training in the following:

  • Understand healthy child development
  • Understand factors that lead to child maltreatment
  • Understand the responses to maltreatment, to work more effectively within various systems and institutions that respond to these incidents.
  • Recognize child abuse and make high quality child abuse reports
  • Receive training in best practices with victims.

And there is great support at USC Upstate for the work that is being done through this conference and the CAST studies program.  I had a wonderful conversation with the Dr. Dirk Schlingmann, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and he and Chancellor Moore want to see the university continue to “grow” these exciting types of programs.

Kudos all around for everyone involved making this conference happen!  USC Upstate is going to be on the map as one of the “go to’s” for training!