Child advocacy studies

University of Missouri-St. Louis
Undergraduate certificate
Adult holding a child's hands.
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It takes courage to step in when a child has experienced traumatic stress or an adverse event — and knowledge fortifies that courage. That’s why you’re motivated to learn about the response methods and professional guidance children need. If you have experience in a child-serving setting, an undergraduate certificate in child advocacy can increase your influence within your current role. If you’re interested in social work or child psychology as a career, this specialized certificate bolsters your bachelor’s degree course work and prepares you to enter the workforce or graduate school. 

You’ll learn about the careful preparation it takes to connect with children and advocate for them in serious, life-altering situations. Work with faculty dedicated to serving at-risk children and learn from immersive experiences and industry professionals. Develop your skills among faculty, staff and students in a diverse learning community. Many faculty members work for the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) Children's Advocacy Center, an on-campus, fully functioning child trauma support center. 

UMSL is one of the first universities to incorporate national standards set by the Zero Abuse Project, a nonprofit organization working to eliminate child sexual abuse, into its curriculum. As a child advocate, you’ll be a voice for systematic change in education settings, social and juvenile justice, mental health and more. Apply your passion for child welfare and development to a meaningful career. Certificate-holders find job opportunities in education, criminal or juvenile justice, social work, human services, mental and behavioral health, psychology and more. 

Quick facts

Official name

Undergraduate certificate in child advocacy studies


University of Missouri-St. Louis

Program type

Undergraduate certificate

Academic home

College of Arts & Sciences | Department of Psychological Sciences

Delivery mode

100% online


Higher Learning Commission

Credit hours


Estimated cost


*This cost is for illustrative purposes only. Your hours and costs will differ, depending on your transfer hours, your course choices and your academic progress. See more about tuition and financial aid.

Social workers looking at a child, one woman giving the child a high five and smiling.

Career prospects

Future career options with a child advocacy degree online include:

  • Adoption and foster care
  • Case manager
  • Child protection and child welfare services
  • Early childhood development
  • Juvenile justice
  • Non-profit service and administration
  • Victim services
Burning Glass Technologies. 2021. Salary numbers and employment growth numbers are based on models that consider advertised job posting salary, Bureau of Labor Statistics data and other proprietary and public sources of information for multiple occupations.
Employment growth
Burning Glass Technologies. 2021. Salary numbers and employment growth numbers are based on models that consider advertised job posting salary, Bureau of Labor Statistics data and other proprietary and public sources of information for multiple occupations.
Median salary

Program structure

Delivery of this program is 100% online: no campus visits are required. Courses are semester-based. How long it takes you to complete your certificate depends on how many credit hours you currently have and how many courses you take per semester.

Course work includes

  • Child maltreatment: a multidisciplinary approach
  • Forensic investigation in child abuse
  • Assessment and intervention in child abuse and neglect
  • Internship
  • Internship seminar


100% online

Calendar system


Typical program length

1-2 years

Typical course load

1 or 2 classes each semester


The University of Missouri-St. Louis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States.

Faculty spotlight

Amanda Bequette

Amanda Bequette offers course work in applied psychology of child advocacy studies focusing on child advocacy, childhood traumatic stress and communication in child advocacy. Dr. Bequette also assists students with career and graduate school planning in the Advising Office.

During her doctoral study, she supported research projects focused on defining infidelity and assessing the function of self-esteem and its relationship to health behaviors. She provided support for CDC-funded projects in community preparedness and health communication. As a research faculty at the Missouri Institute of Mental Health (MIMH), she wrote and evaluated federal and local grant-funded projects supporting mental health programming, early childhood social and emotional health programming, child advocacy and training in child-traumatic stress and trauma-informed programming.

She has served as a trainer at MIMH, is a member of the St. Louis Regional Suicide Prevention Coalition and is an equity advisor supported by the University of Missouri-St. Louis Advance Project.

Amanda Bequette, PhD
Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences
Jerry Dunn

Dr. Jerry Dunn is the executive director of Children's Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis and oversees the clinical, forensic, research and training activities of the agency's three sites. She is a licensed psychologist and is a clinical professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL). Her clinical and research interests involve assessment and treatment of high-risk children and their family members in community- and school-based settings. She earned her doctorate in clinical psychology at UMSL. 

The course work she teaches focuses on building skills for assessment and intervention in child abuse and neglect.

Jerry Dunn, PhD
Clinical Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences, and Executive Director of Children’s Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis
Dana Klar

Dr. Dana Klar earned her juris doctorate and master’s in social work from Washington University in St. Louis, and her bachelor’s in psychology from Louisiana State University. In her professional career, Dr. Klar has served as a forensic interviewer for cases of child sexual abuse, as a child and adolescent therapist and as a guardian ad litem and staff attorney for St. Louis County’s Family Court and Court-Appointed Special Advocate programs. As an enrolled member of the United Houma Nation in Louisiana, Dr. Klar has a significant background with, and special interest in, working with indigenous nations. 

She teaches courses focused on child advocacy policy and global issues, ethics and values, traumatic stress in childhood and adolescence, culture and child advocacy and forensic investigation in child abuse.

Dana Klar, LCSW, JD
Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences, and Member of the Training and Grant Administration Teams for the Children’s Advocacy Center
Matt Kliethermes

Dr. Matt Kliethermes earned his bachelor's degree in psychology from Truman State University and his doctorate in clinical psychology at Saint Louis University. He has over 20 years of experience and extensive training in the field of child trauma. He provides direct clinical services to youth exposed to trauma, supervises mental health trainees, teaches at the undergraduate level and provides frequent training and consultation at local, state and national levels. Dr. Kliethermes is a nationally certified Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) trainer and the author of multiple book chapters and articles on TF-CBT and childhood trauma. 

His course work focuses on traumatic stress in childhood and adolescence and childhood maltreatment: a multidisciplinary approach.

Matt Kliethermes, PhD
Clinical Professor, Department of Psychological Services, and Training Director at Children’s Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis
Dorothy Haskell

Dorothy Haskell is a licensed clinical social worker who provides leadership support for both the university’s Child Advocacy Studies (CAST) program and federal grant initiatives, including project ASSIST (Access, Skills, and Support for Implementation Science in Trauma-informed Training). Project ASSIST focuses on equipping trauma-informed trainers across the country with innovative curriculum and training skills to help create a more trauma-informed workforce. Ms. Haskell earned her master's degree in social work from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. She is certified in a number of different evidence-based treatment models for children and youth with trauma histories, including Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT), Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), and Integrated Treatment for Complex Trauma (ITCT). She is an active member of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, both in her role as project director and serving on the secondary traumatic stress workgroup.

Her course work includes traumatic stress in childhood and adolescence, the internship seminar and coordinating the internship in child advocacy.

Dorothy Haskell, MSW, LCSW
Associate Project Director for Children’s Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis

Learn more about this program

This program is administered by the Department of Psychological Sciences