According to the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, arguably the most important period of development for the human brain occurs between birth and age 5. During this stage, the fundamental architecture of the brain that makes up personality and intellect takes form. When children are in environments of toxic stress, this architecture is damaged and children suffer behavioral, cognitive, and mental health deficits that could potentially last their entire lives. Child advocacy professionals know, however, that when young children suffering in toxic environments are moved into stable caring relationships, they can quickly make up any lost development. The key is early intervention.
Students seeking a bachelor’s in child advocacy should expect to spend at least four years in a child advocacy degree program. As with most bachelor’s degree programs, child advocacy psychology majors are typically required to complete at least two semesters of general education courses, as well as a series of courses that cover the major field of study. The best child advocacy programs, however, also offer a wide array of electives and encourage students to take courses not only in their major, but also through other departments. Graduates with child advocacy bachelor’s degrees look forward to fulfilling careers as educators, child intervention specialists and caseworkers.
Why a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Advocacy Psychology?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), people with bachelor’s degrees in 2012 were 25% more likely to have a job than someone who stopped his or her education with an associate degree. The unemployment rate for individuals with a bachelor’s degree is 4.5%, less than half the rate for those who do not earn a high school diploma. Furthermore, people with bachelor’s degrees typically earned over 35% more than their colleagues who had associate degrees.
Getting Into a Child Advocacy Psychology Bachelor’s Degree Program
The expectations of child advocacy psychology programs vary. However, most schools have the following minimum requirements:
- Sufficient grade point average (GPA) – typically at least 2.0
- High School Diploma of General Educational Development (GED)
Inside a Child Advocacy Psychology Bachelor’s Degree Program
People who enroll in bachelor’s degree child advocacy programs should expect to spend a good part of the first two years taking general education; mathematics, history, natural sciences, and literature are commonly required. For major courses, the first two years will typically be restricted to introductory courses in child development, advocacy, child abuse and neglect, and criminal justice.
As they advance through the program, child advocacy psychology students will focus much more of their school work in major courses such as forensic assessment, child welfare, and research and evaluation. Many programs offer more detailed instruction on the law and legal research, as well as public administration. The best programs require completion of an internship or practicum, where the student gets real world experience prior to graduation.
What’s Next for Child Advocacy Psychology Bachelor’s Degree Holders?
Students who graduate with a child advocacy psychology degree can expect to find work right away. One popular field for these graduates is social work; according to the BLS, the field of social work is expected to grow during the next decade. Taking positions as child welfare interventionists and caseworkers, these professionals should expect to earn nearly $40,000 annually. Those who go into education should expect a median salary of more than $50,000.
Others who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in child advocacy choose to continue their education and pursue a master’s degree. According to a recent report by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, mental health professionals who earn a master’s degree can expect to earn over $400,000 more over their lifetimes than their bachelor’s degree holding colleagues. Master’s degree earners also have more employment opportunities, as they are sought out by clinics and schools to work in supervisory positions; at the managerial level, child advocates can expect to earn over $55,000 annually.