If you are an advocate or have considered becoming one, you have crossed paths with Ms. Arbor Buchanan. Arbor, our in-house Training Specialist, has been a member of the CASA of NWA family since 2004. Given her long history with CASA and extensive training experience, Arbor was selected to serve on the National Curriculum Development Committee. Formed by the National CASA Association, the committee brings nationwide experts together to redesign the in-person, new advocate training program. The last time it had been revised was 2007.
After two years and hundreds of hours of committee service, National CASA finally released a pilot of the new training program. Due to her valuable contributions on the committee, Arbor and our CASA chapter were selected as one of 10 pilot sites around the country. In March, the training launched locally for four new advocates. After each of the 3 hour sessions, all of the participants are asked to complete evaluations that will assist the committee in fine tuning the modules. To strengthen the feedback, we invited a few seasoned advocates to train alongside the rookies.
When asked how the new training compares to her first training experience with CASA, current advocate Monica van Oudheusden shared, “Both training programs offer an abundance of information. Arbor does an incredible job getting volunteers ready to serve the children in our communities. A notable positive difference in the pilot training program is that she covers CASA report writing sooner. Another positive aspect to this pilot program is there’s not much homework; we are instead working through the information together in our classes and with Arbor. I’m enjoying this much better as I prefer the instant feedback/answering of questions versus having to wait until the next class meeting to discuss and question.”
If all goes well, this updated, in-person training program will become a part of nearly 1,000 CASA chapters across the country in fall 2016. Congratulations to Arbor and the rest of the CDC for their incredible efforts which will improve advocate training experiences for thousands of volunteers every year.