For Immediate Release – November 10, 2021


SIOUX FALLS – The Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment hosted multidisciplinary focus groups Oct. 27-29, 2021, that will help enhance the Child and Adult Advocacy Studies (CAASt) graduate certificate curriculum at the University of South Dakota.


The focus groups were made possible through funding from the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI). The USD School of Health Sciences received a $200,000 grant from NCWWI to support the development of case studies. The multidisciplinary focus groups made up of statewide professionals working with child abuse and neglect cases in South Dakota will be used to enhance the CAASt graduate certificate curriculum and provide a framework for a future CAASt textbook. CAASt graduate certificate scholarships are also provided through this funding.


The focus groups offered members of multidisciplinary teams an extended period of time to discuss their individual roles in child maltreatment cases and explore opportunities to further collaborate. Thirty professionals represented various areas of the multidisciplinary team, including law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, medical, mental health, victim services, education, and advocacy.


“This was an opportunity for frontline professionals to discuss and conceptualize efforts for preventing and responding to maltreatment within our state,” said Shana Cerny, USD Associate Professors in Occupational Therapy and an instructor in the CAASt graduate certificate program.  “It was an opportunity to share ideas and problem solve through complex, real-life situations. We are breaking down the systemic silos and learning about and from each other. Future students will benefit from these efforts as the cases developed from this event will be used throughout the CAASt curriculum to depict realistic situations from multiple perspectives.”


The first cohort of the CAASt graduate certificate program began in January 2021 and will complete the program in the fall semester of 2021. The curriculum includes three classes with content on trauma across the lifespan, multidisciplinary approaches, creating systemic change, and a practicum that puts that knowledge to work. Go here for more information.



The Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment (CPCM),, is the first organization to join local, tribal, state and federal efforts in the fight against child sexual abuse and other forms of maltreatment in South Dakota. CPCM was born out of the work of Jolene’s Law Task Force, established through SDCL 2-6-31 and its comprehensive 10-year plan to help South Dakotans know of, respond to and prevent child sexual abuse. The center’s director is Carrie Sanderson.


USD’s School of Health Sciences is a national leader in interprofessional health sciences education. South Dakota’s comprehensive School of Health Sciences develops scholars, practitioners and leaders in health and human services, including addiction counselors, dental hygienists, health science practitioners, medical laboratory scientists, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, physician assistants, public health practitioners and social workers.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.