CAST: From Minor to Major and Some Adventures in Between

Shared with us from the University of Missouri-St. Louis

As one of the few Child Advocacy Centers embedded within a university since 1997, Children’s Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis knew we wanted to align with the University of Missouri-St. Louis’s teaching mission in a meaningful way and leverage the expertise of working professionals in our center for UMSL students. In 2012, we went on site visits with Montclair State University and attended the CAST College at Winona State University. We had already been offering a few child trauma-related courses on dean’s approval, but we used these site visits to clarify our vision and constructed a certificate and minor in collaboration with our home department of Psychological Sciences and other departments across campus including Criminology and Criminal Justice, Gender Studies, Sociology, Education, and Social Work. Our certificate and minor proposal and all related courses were officially approved through all university channels in August of 2014.


We have always enjoyed the support of our administration, but a new dean brought renewed interest in the program, and after touring our center, he essentially asked how quickly we could get him a proposal for a major. When our new provost toured shortly after, she asked the same thing. We submitted our formal proposal in January of 2020. The onset of COVID-19 slowed the progression and approval process down a bit, but on April 1, 2021, the Missouri Coordinating Board of Higher Education and Workforce Development officially announced the launch of our Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology of Child Advocacy Studies (AP-CAST).  There are face-to-face and fully virtual options available for every course section. We are building strong transfer agreements with local community colleges, and look forward to launching through Missouri Online this Fall for those outside of our immediate region.

Our CAST program has also helped open the door to other opportunities, through federal grants from SAMHSA and the DOJ OVC,  with partners from CAST universities and colleges across the country. It has been an honor to partner with institutions, share our curriculum, explore evaluation approaches, and think strategically about what is next for simulation-based learning to help develop a trauma-informed child-serving workforce. We also have new funding from SAMHSA beginning 10/1/2021 that will allow us to offer more no-cost trainings to child-serving professional trainers and university instructors. The goal is to develop better and more accessible trauma-informed trainers. Contact [email protected] or [email protected] if you would like to learn about new opportunities!