2021 PLAN VOCA Grantee Training
Due to the continuing pandemic, the annual PLAN VOCA Grantee training was again held virtually in 2021. Twelve webinars were offered throughout the month of June to allow grantees to satisfy the 10 hours of mandatory training that PCCD requires of VOCA grantees.
The intended audience for these trainings was legal services programs, domestic violence programs and sexual assault programs who have VOCA grants. Others in these communities without VOCA grants were also welcome to attend. These webinars also offered CLE credit for live participation. Sessions will vary between 60 and 90 minutes.
PLEASE NOTE: PERSONS WORKING UNDER A VOCA GRANT MUST COMPLETE THE TRAINING HOURS AND HAVE THE DOCUMENTATION IN THEIR PERSONNEL FILES.
Online Recorded Training Option:
PCCD has indicated that anyone who is unable to obtain their mandatory 10 hours of training credit hours by attending these live webinars may complete their 2021 training requirement by watching video recordings of sessions presented last year through PCCD’s Pennsylvania Victim Services Training (PVST) system. Each course viewed counts as 1 credit toward the mandatory 10 training credit hours PCCD requires under your organization’s VOCA Grant.
Instructions for Online Registration
PLEASE NOTE: Pennsylvania CLE Credit for attorneys is NOT AVAILABLE for completion of the recorded online courses.
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 trainings like this possible.
2021 Training Schedule
1. …But how will I keep the lights on?” : Addressing Utility Needs for Survivors of Domestic Violence
June 2, 2021
Elizabeth Marx, PA Utility Law Project
Ria Pereira, PA Utility Law Project
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. Special Relief for Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: Housing Issues
June 3, 2021
Matthew Rich, MidPenn Legal Services
Mary Beth Clark, North Penn Legal Services
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.
3. Who Can you Trust? Representing Elderly Victims of Financial Exploitation
June 4, 2021
Leah Finlayson, SeniorLAW Center
Brandan Corbalis, SeniorLAW Center
This interactive webinar will provide tips for recognizing and responding to financial exploitation, including through civil and orphans’ court litigation. The presenters will focus on how to file orphans’ court litigation to address misuse of a power of attorney. The presenters will also address the additional challenges elderly victims are facing during the pandemic.
4. Accessing Benefits From the County Assistance Office for Survivors of DV or Sexual Assault
June 7, 2021
Amy Hirsch, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia
Cash Assistance, SNAP/Food Stamps, and Medicaid Benefits are an important resource for survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault. This session provides 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. The new expanded monthly federal Child Tax Credit was also reviewed.
5. The Protection from Abuse Act and Firearms
June 8, 2021
Danni L. Petyo, PA Coalition Against Domestic Violence
This training session will review the basics of the Protection from Abuse Act and the recent amendments made under Act 79. After this session participants will be able to, understand the updated firearms relinquishment provisions in the PFAA. Session participants will also review the updates to the PFAA process and procedure and to the Firearms Act due to Act 79, and what these amendments mean for survivors of domestic violence both under state and federal law. This session will be done through a survivor-centered and trauma-informed lawyering lens, so participants can think about devising creative solutions under the new PFAA language to assist the survivors they work with.
6. Civil Litigation: Before, During and After the Pandemic
June 9, 2021
Sarah Robinson, Philadelphia Legal Assistance
Amber McGee, Neighborhood Legal Services
The increased need for civil legal aid during the pandemic forced courts and attorneys alike to drastically pivot their approaches to the provision of justice and services. Drawing on their experiences as civil litigators in both the Western and Eastern parts of the Commonwealth, Amber and Sarah will lead a discussion on the myriad of ways in which the pandemic has impacted civil litigation. Through the lens of family law and landlord/tenant law, this session will touch on challenges to the attorney-client relationship, changes in hearing preparation and pre-trial work, and the advantages and disadvantages of remote hearings.
7. Family Law Essentials and New COVID Considerations
June 10, 2021
Sarah Robinson, Philadelphia Legal Assistance
Amber McGee, Neighborhood Legal Services
This 90 minute session, led by two experienced family law attorneys, will teach participants the foundational elements of core family law practice areas, including child custody, support, and protection from abuse. The speakers will review relevant statutes, case law, and pending legislation while providing practice tips tailored for the virtual courtroom. In addition, this session will cover special relief options and programs for survivors of domestic violence as well as discuss the implications of pandemic-related relief payments, child tax credits, and other remedies in the American Rescue Plan Act.
8. Responding to Clients in Crisis: Practical Skills for Engagement and Interviewing
June 11, 2021
Maggie Potter, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia
Caroline Rivera, Philadelphia Legal Assistance
Saadiqa Kumanyika, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia
Irene Lindsay Brantley, Women In Transition
This workshop will explore the impact of trauma and grief on brain functioning and decision-making to enable participants to better engage clients who are in crisis. We will include tips on how to recognize signs of trauma and grief and how to conduct screenings and trauma informed interviews with clients.
9. Medical Assistance for Crime Victims (with special focus on domestic violence)
June 14, 2021
Asha Ramachandran, PA Health Law Project
James (Jake) Lee, PA Health Law Project
This training provided an overview of Medical Assistance (also known as Medicaid) program eligibility in Pennsylvania, with special focus on domestic violence survivors.
The training provides information on how clients and their advocates can navigate the Medical Assistance system. There is much more to Medical Assistance than regular healthcare coverage that includes personal assistance services at home, mental health coverage, home modification, medical and non-medical transportation, and more. With private health insurance companies taking over as gate keepers of the Medical Assistance programs in Pennsylvania, this timely presentation will help advocates for survivors acquire greater knowledge on how the Medical Assistance system is working and learn strategies to help clients navigate the process.
PHLP through direct client representation is aware of the many difficulties victims of crime and their families endure and some stories about these experiences are shared during the program.
10. Overview of Crime Victims Compensation
June 15, 2021
Erika Martel, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency
This presentation is a general overview of the Pennsylvania Victim’s Compensation Assistance Program, a Program designed to assist victims of crime with expenses directly related to the crime incident. The presentation includes details on program eligibility, requirements of the victim, benefits that can be considered, and the monetary amounts allowed by law per benefit type.
11. Advocating for Immigrant Survivors
June 17, 2021
Sarah Martin-Torres, Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC)
Whitney Phelps, Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC)
This training provided an overview of key concepts in immigration law and provides information on immigration relief options for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and related crimes. Participants will be able to recognize immigration legal options appropriate for survivors and their families, and will be able to identify practices their agency can implement to keep immigrant survivors safe.