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Pre-Service Volunteer Training Virtually

Written by: Sandra Tilton

Since March COVID started, we have conducted 5 Pre-Service Advocate Training classes on ZOOM. It has been a new, challenging change but each person has gained new skills using technology. Our training consists of 15 hours online with our trainer and 15 hours outside of class. Our online/in person training includes Advocate Coordinators and Advocates sharing their expertise in certain areas with our trainees.

Terry Patterson Program Director Procedure and Optima
Monica Croft Advocate Coordinator Advocate Role
Karen Foyil Advocate Coordinator/CFE Specialist CFE – Collaborative Family Engagement
Jeanine Morgan Compadre Search for Families
Cori Davila Fostering Futures Specialist Older youth
Karen Kernohan Advocate Coordinator Confidentiality
Nancy Pigford Advocate Trauma Specialist
Janice Powell Advocate Family in Poverty Specialist
Debbye Waller Advocate Courtroom and Educational Specialist


The online training consists of videos, case studies, and PowerPoints filled with information. Prework for class consist of reading background information from our Training Manuel or online. This work also includes videos and active participation in assignments.

We offer 5 day and 5 evening training times for anyone who would like to attend. Since COVID started we have added 10 new advocates that are now active volunteers and serve our CASA children well. For our Fall evening class, we have 6 new advocates training with us.

Another aspect that has changed since COVID began is the courtroom is now done by ZOOM also. Advocates are sworn virtually and then stay on the link for their 3-hour courtroom observation. It provides information on how the court operates and the advocates see how different attorneys, CPS Caseworkers, and the Judge interact. Sometimes the court has taken long hours to complete the number of cases on the docket. Recently, some of the cases have been scheduled on different days so there are not so many long court days.

Because of COVID, virtual home visits were started so our advocates had to be trained to be creative to hold conversations with our children virtually. At this time if the placement and advocates agree, the visit can be in person. Of course this is much better.

People from a variety of places, professions, and ages have joined us virtually since March. To become an advocate, you need to be:

  • Willing to commit at least a year of your time (an average of 10-15 hours per month)
  • Able to effectively communicate orally and in writing
  • Willing to participate in 30+ hours of in-depth initial training, 3-hour courtroom observation, and 12 hours of annual continuing education
  • Able to pass criminal and CPS history background checks
  • Over age 21

Our Recruiter, Melanie Cotton, has Information Sessions the 3rd Thursday of each month at 1:00 PM and 6:00 PM.

Our day classes are the second full week of each month and our evening classes are on Monday evenings from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM for 5 consecutive Mondays.

Contact for more information.