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Case Study: Elevating Racial Equity with Child Advocates

Presenter Deborah Wilson Gadsden speaking into microphone

“I have engaged Voce representatives on multiple opportunities to provide workshops on race equity and trauma to a variety of audiences. Their presentations are consistently based on thorough research and are delivered in an innovative manner. Their use of data, videos, articles, and application activities inform and challenge the participants’ ideas and misperceptions. Their seminars are always very well received and highly rated. I have frequently recommended Voce as a resource to organizations intending to engage in thoughtful and candid discussion on race, equity, and trauma.” – Sharon England, JD, LSW, MSW, BSW (PA CASA Board of Directors)

The Situation

The Pennsylvania Court Appointed Special Advocates Association (PA CASA) is a nonprofit organization that works to grow, strengthen, and unite local CASA programs so they can ensure the safety, well-being, and forever home for every abused and/or neglected child in Pennsylvania. Court Appointed Special Advocates – also known as Guardian Ad Litems – are community volunteers who speak up in court to assist the judge in determining a course of action in the best interests of a child. For more information, visit

While CASA volunteers are predominately white, most of the children served are children of color. To make certain their services are culturally sensitive and appropriate, PA CASA sought to conduct training for its volunteers on diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Sharon England, JD, LSW, MSW, BSW, formerly the curriculum manager at the Child Welfare Resource Center (CWRC) and a member of the PA CASA Board of Directors, recommended Voce as a source of social and racial justice training content. Ms. England was familiar with the work of Voce’s Racial Equity and Inclusion training team, which also provided training for the CWRC Diversity Task Force.

The Approach & Implementation

The PA CASA engaged Voce to tailor and deliver a six-hour foundational training, Racial Disparity, Implicit Bias and White Privilege. The organization desired to provide an opportunity for deeper discussion on the racial disparities present in children in foster care and invite conversations on white privilege and inherent bias.

Working collaboratively with PA CASA to understand its unique challenges, concerns and objectives, the Voce training team refined the training material to address the organization’s needs. Steps the training team took to ensure successful execution included:

  • Prepping PA CASA with detailed information about the nature and scope of the content, as well as the participatory delivery model used with racially charged content.  
  • Advocating for use of breakout rooms in the virtual environment to allow for the brave spaces participants need to discuss this type of content.  
  • Discussing the efficacy of various virtual platforms to determine which was most conducive to this event.  
  • Assessing the administrative support needs of the training and coordinating efforts to ensure enough support was available to facilitate the technical requirements of presenting through a virtual environment.  

Deliverables included:

  • Align training objectives with the PA CASA mission
  • Implement training methodology: 
    • revise training description
    • restructure training objectives
    • restructure training framework (At-A-Glance)
  • Conduct meetings to review and finalize training content and materials
  • Facilitate continuing education credits and continuing legal education credits
  • Prep REI training team
  • Conduct virtual training in three-hour segments over the course of two days

Of note, this engagement took place in a condensed timeframe between August and late September when the training was delivered. The total length of time of the engagement was one month.

The Result

The training session delivery was flawless. Even with the short turnaround time between finalizing the contract and the delivery date, the work flowed smoothly and there were no major challenges or barriers.

The training met all requirements to be eligible for attendees to receive professional continuing education credit. Over thirty training evaluations were completed and received, and evaluations indicated a high rating in each area of assessment, including meeting learning objectives, highly prepared trainers exhibiting mastery of the training material, engaging and applicable content, and organized delivery of content.

Subsequently, PA CASA contracted Voce again to create a training session for their inaugural conference scheduled six months later. Voce’s training team built and delivered a training titled, The Intersection of Race and Trauma, now available as part of Voce’s racial equity training series. 

“In seeking training related to diversity and inclusion, Voce came highly recommended. {Following the training,} one of the volunteer advocates in attendance shared it was one of the most important trainings they have been a part of. The training received high praise from all attendees. All PA CASA staff found working with Voce to coordinate this training to be an enjoyable experience. 
Voce trainers and staff were highly organized, competent, and passionate and delivered a training that exceeded our expectations. In fact, PA CASA staff were all sent to a top-rated anti-racism training in the National CASA network and rated the Voce training as more impactful than that training. 

Given the positive experience, we had no hesitation to invite Voce trainers to be a presenter at our first annual conference held in April 2022. Voce trainers welcomed the opportunity to create a new workshop titled The Intersection of Race and Trauma. PA CASA was excited to welcome Voce to debut this training at our conference and once again, exceeded expectations in both planning and delivery of the training. 

Voce has provided meaningful opportunities to learn and engage in important conversations and PA CASA looks forward to future opportunities to work together and further our mission.” - Ashley Frank, Chief Impact Officer (PA CASA)

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