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USD to Offer Child and Adult Advocacy Graduate Certificate

A USD occupational therapy student helping a young child. They sit together at a table with arts and crafts in front of them. Starting in the spring of 2021, USD will offer an online Child and Adult Advocacy Studies Graduate Certificate.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota School of Health Sciences will offer a new, online graduate-level certificate in child and adult advocacy studies. Those who earn the certificate will learn about the various factors that lead to child and adult maltreatment, and they will be better equipped to advocate for children and adults who have experienced trauma.

Students will develop multidisciplinary approaches to working cooperatively within and across various agencies, organizations, institutions and networks to address abuse issues and cases.

In addition to graduate-level students at USD, the certificate program can benefit practicing health care professionals, child protection advocates, attorneys and law enforcement personnel.

The certificate program was developed by Kelly Bass, D.S.W., an associate professor and program director in the Department of Social Work and Shana Cerny, O.T.D., an associate professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, in conjunction with the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment, an interprofessional center housed in the School of Health Sciences that develops and sponsors initiatives and programs aimed at reducing the maltreatment of children in South Dakota.

“USD is meeting South Dakota’s needs by preparing professionals for the realities of preventing and responding to maltreatment," said Cerny. "These professionals will become leaders within our rural, tribal and urban communities by advocating on behalf of the victims and survivors of maltreatment and by engaging in creative solution-building regarding matters of maltreatment in their communities.”

The certificate – the first of its type in the upper Midwest region – will be available January 2021.


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 84 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.


Hanna DeLange
USD News