Child abuse cases continue to rise and students at Northwest Arkansas Community College are getting top notch training to bring those numbers down.
NWACC is the first community college to get national recognition for it’s Children’s Advocacy’s Studies Program.
And the Children’s Advocacy Center said having students get training before they’re put on the front line is crucial.
“As great of community as we are, these issues are here in Northwest Arkansas.” said Ricky Tompkins, Vice President of Learning for NWACC. ‘We have to make sure our children are safe.”
Over 400 students have taken the Child Advocacy Study Course, otherwise known as CAST.
With approval from the Gunderson National Child Protection Training Center, they know what’s being taught in NWA is making a difference.
“It’s an amazing thing to see people be proactive in order to provide our students the tools and resources to eliminate child abuse,” Said Melanie Halbrook, Education Specialist for the Children’s Advocacy Center.
Tompkins said 95% of its students stay in NWA.
“The giving and the influence this program is going to have will benefit us, but truly will create a safe environment for children to succeed,” said Tompkins.
Halbrook said it works directly with CAST and gives real life perspective to the students.
“It brings a lot of value into the classroom when you can talk about cases that are happening here and right now,” said Halbrook.
Tompkin said they’re focusing on teaching students how to spot signs of abuse.
“Children will display certain types of behaviors that they need to identify and identify quickly in case there needs to be an intervention,” said Tompkins.
Halbrook said these students are getting 3-5 years worth of experience before they’re even handed their first case.
“They’ll be better prepared to work these investigations,” said Halbrook.
While it’s unforunate these programs have to exist, the ultimate goal of it is to put a stop to child abuse.
“We’re providing a service our community needs,” said Tompkins.
The students that graduate Saturday will be the first to have this certification on their degree.