Did You Know About This Enriching Benefit of Being One of Our Volunteer Child Advocates?
One of the benefits of being a Volunteer Child Advocate for the Guardian ad Litem Program is access to the continual, high-quality training provided by the program. These trainings are provided both online and in-person within the various offices. Part of my job is to help organize the trainings around the circuit. I was able to be part of three great ones this month.
In Milton the first week of November, Cheyenne Ohmit, a Child Advocate Manager in the office, spoke to the group of more than 10 on the topic of supervised visits. It was a timely and practical topic. Cheyenne says, “Often parental visits are overlooked for a variety of reasons; intimidation, lack of knowledge, not feeling prepared or welcomed, etc. Knowing that our volunteers are more aware of their role, I hope they have the confidence to observe visits without hesitation.”
Later that week, Escambia County volunteers were treated to a training by Nancy Jacobi, Child Welfare Case Worker for Families First Network. She trained our group of 15 volunteers on the topic of Early Childhood Court, a program set up to work with the toddlers and babies that are removed from their homes. This program has special nuisances that are different from regular dependency court and the extensive training left the volunteers more prepared to deal with them.
Last Thursday in the Fort Walton Beach office, attendees were able to learn about the intimidating process of working with the IEP (individualized educational program) of our GAL kiddos in the school system. We were fortunate to be trained by a woman with over ten years of professional experience working with them. Stephanie Wheat is the Assistant Principal at Edwins Elementary School. There were great questions and the volunteers left feeling more secure in working with their GAL child’s school to advocate for their educational needs.
The benefits of attending in-service training goes way beyond just the acquired knowledge. Sometimes the process of representing the best interests of a child can feel overwhelming. Gathering with fellow child advocates is an affirming part of being in our program. Cheyenne says, “They can share thoughts, insights, and opinions that their friends and families would not understand or comprehend. It's just a positive atmosphere for everyone.” Plus, we always have goodies. Happy Thanksgiving!