2020 PLAN VOCA Grantee Training

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Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. (PLAN) offered 12 one-hour webinars during June 2020 in place of the previously announced 2-day training contemplated for June 23-24, 2020. Attendance at 10 of these webinars will satisfy the 10-hour mandatory VOCA training requirement. An additional two extra training hours are available to those attending all of the webinars. These webinars provided one (1.0) PA CLE credit each for participation. 

Certificates of Participation for personnel files were provided to attendees.  


Online Training Option:

These programs are now available to VOCA-funded programs through PCCD’s Pennsylvania Victim Services Training (PVST) system. Each course counts as 1 credit toward the mandatory 10 training credit hours PCCD requires under your organization’s VOCA Grant, and courses can be taken as the learner’s schedule permits. You will receive a confirmation email for your records upon each successful course completion.

PLEASE NOTE: Pennsylvania CLE Credit for attorneys is NOT AVAILABLE for completion of the recorded online courses.

Instructions for Online Registration

PLAN thanks PCCD, especially Kathy Buckley and Jeff Blystone, for their creativity and flexibility in allowing us to offer this training virtually in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

PLAN also thanks the CLE Board of the PA Supreme Court, for their ongoing funding which makes training programs like this possible for PLAN to offer.

2020 VOCA Grant Training Schedule

PLEASE NOTE: Separate registration for each webinar is REQUIRED.

1. …But how will I keep the lights on?” : Addressing Utility Needs for Survivors of Domestic Violence

June 10, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Presenter: Elizabeth Marx, PULP

Access to affordable heat, electricity, and telephone service is absolutely critical for survivors of domestic violence to establish a safe and healthy home. Survivors commonly face burdensome challenges to connecting and maintaining utility service – often as a direct result of economic abuse.  In this session, the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project will cover the essentials of utility billing, collections, and terminations, will address unique utility protections for survivors of domestic violence, and will share best practice strategies to assist survivors in transition to connect and maintain affordable utility services. 


2. Domestic Relations Practice during COVID-19

June 11, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM -
Presenter:  Susan Pearlstein, PLA

We will discuss how the court closures are impacting our domestic relations work, and provide an update on child custody and protection from abuse during the pandemic.


3. Special Relief for Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: Housing Issues

June 12, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Presenters: Matthew Rich, MPLS and Mary Beth Clark, NPLS

This session will focus on housing issues commonly encountered by victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.  Topics to be discussed include the current status and application of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in subsidized tenancies and strategies for how to confront issues which arise in market rate/private housing tenancies, where VAWA does not apply.  Also, this session will include a review of a "good case" to highlight how creative advocacy can be utilized to protect and benefit victims dealing with housing-related problems.


4. Accessing Benefits From the County Assistance Office for Survivors of DV or Sexual Assault

June 15, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Presenter: Amy Hirsch, CLS

Cash Assistance, SNAP/Food Stamps, and Medicaid Benefits are an important resource for survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault. This session will provide information on accessing benefits during the pandemic, provisions to protect and assist survivors of DV or sexual assault, and how to appeal denials of benefits. 


5. Basic Crime Victim Compensation

June 16, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Presenter: Michael Reich, PCCD

In this training you will be provided with a basic overview of the Pennsylvania Victims Compensation Assistance Program (VCAP), including eligibility criteria and available expenses


6. WOULD I LIE TO YOU?: Practice Tips and Ethical Consideration When Representing Elderly Victims of Financial Exploitation and Abuse

June 17, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Presenter: Leah Finlayson, SeniorLAW Center

This interactive webinar will provide practical tips for recognizing and responding to financial exploitation and elder abuse, including through civil and orphans’ court litigation.  It will also include an exploration of a lawyer’s ethical duty regarding clients with diminished capacity.   The presenters  will also explore the additional challenges seniors are facing in the pandemic from living with the abuser during a Stay-at-Home order to court access issues.


7. Evidence for PFA Cases

June 18, 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Presenters: Larry Szmulowicz and Arly Smith-Pearson, PLA

This webinar will discuss the use of electronic evidence in Protection From Abuse (PFA) cases. We will discuss the applicable rules of evidence and case law regarding authentication of social media, phone, and other electronic evidence. Finally we will discuss best practices and strategies for admitting and using the evidence effectively, as well as the ethics of sharing evidence with a prosecutor. 


8. Immigration Basics and Relief for Victims of Crime

June 19, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Presenter: Vanessa Griffith

This webinar will train participants on the basics of the U.S. immigration system.  It will then provide an overview of common forms of immigration relief for victims of crime, including U & T visas.  The goal of the webinar is to help participants issue-spot for potential immigration relief while speaking with clients.


9. Advocating for the LGBTQ Communities

June 22, 1:00 PM-2:00 PM
Presenter: Elizabeth C. Kahn, Mazzoni Center

This program will discuss options and strategies for representing victims of crime from the LGBTQ community.


10. New Developments in the Law for Victims of Domestic Violence and an Update on Firearms

June 23, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Presenter: MacKenzie Clark, PCADV

This training will cover the major changes to the law protecting victims of domestic violence, both statutory and case law, as well as a brief update on changes to the law on firearms relinquishment and prohibition.


11. Partnering with Law Enforcement to Better Serve Domestic Violence Victims & Survivors

June 24, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Presenter: Angela Keen, DVSLC

We know from research that it is common for perpetrators and victims of domestic violence to have contact with law enforcement. For service providers in the community, maintaining relationships with law enforcement can be an extremely beneficial relationship as we provide services to those victims and survivors of domestic violence. During this workshop, we will explore ways to connect with law enforcement and nurture those relationships in a mutually beneficial way to better serve our clients.


12. Trauma Informed Legal Services

June 25, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Presenter Suzanne Estrella, PCAR

This presentation will cover the guiding principles of a trauma informed approach to advocacy. Taking into account the impact of trauma on survivors, participants will learn to adapt their practice by creating trauma-informed spaces for client meetings and identify new ways to question survivors about their experiences. Participants will also examine the value of expert witness testimony offered to educate juries and the courts about trauma and its impact on survivors.



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