2023 PLAN VOCA Grantee Training

Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. will be presenting the 2023 VOCA Grantee Mandatory Training virtually during the week of May 22, 2023. Ten workshop sessions will be presented each day via webinar beginning at 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM Eastern. Sessions will vary between 60 and 90 minutes.

Attendance at these workshops will satisfy the 10-hour mandatory training that PCCD requires of VOCA grantees in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit will also be offered for attorneys attending the workshop sessions.

The intended audience for these trainings is legal services programs, domestic violence programs and sexual assault programs who have VOCA grants. Others in these communities without VOCA grants are also welcome to attend.

The full schedule is listed below.

YOU MUST REGISTER FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL SESSION TO BE ABLE TO PARTICIPATE.  You will receive a confirmation email after you register for each session.  Please keep these emails as they will give you the information you will need to join the sessions.

Certificates of Participation for your personnel files will be sent out after all of the sessions have been completed. 


CLE Credit

The sessions in this program have been approved by the Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board for listed hours of substantive law, practice and procedure CLE credit. 

PLEASE NOTE:  if you are requesting CLE credit for attending a webinar you must actively participate in the entire webinar. There will be interactive polls launched during the webinar that you will have to respond to in order to prove your active participation. 


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email for each session containing information about joining the webinar for that session. 

2023 PLAN VOCA Grantee Training

Language Access in the PA Justice System and Beyond

May 22, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

  • Presenters: Lerae Kroon, Justice at Work PA and DeJonna Bates, Community Justice Project
  • 1 substantive CLE credit 

In this session, we will discuss how to protect your limited English proficient clients’ rights to language access when interacting with police departments, courts, DA offices, and other state, local and federal agencies.

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Victim’s Compensation

May 22, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

  • Presenter Michael Reich, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency
  • 1 substantive CLE credit

In this training you will be provided with a basic overview of the Program (including eligibility criteria and available expenses), and information you need to assist someone in filing a claim.


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Working with Law Enforcement

May 23, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

  • Presenter: Lois Fasnacht, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • 1 substantive CLE credit 

Law enforcement officers play many different roles when it comes to domestic violence/sexual assault cases through the criminal and civil justice systems.  This workshop will be a discussion on ways to assist in having law enforcement officers work with domestic violence/sexual assault attorneys and advocates.

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Bias or Best Interest of the Child? Applying the Statutory Custody Factor to Parents and other Caretakers with Disabilities

May 23, 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM

  • Presenters: Tracy Rhoades and Kelly Darr, Disability Rights Pennsylvania and Susan Pearlstein, Philadelphia Legal Assistance
  • 1.5 substantive CLE Credit 

The best interest of the child standard has become the core principle of child custody law. As part of the best interest analysis, judges consider numerous factors that take parents’ and caretakers’ disabilities into account, whether explicitly – such as the party’s “mental or physical condition” – or implicitly. Continued consideration of disability as a factor in custody determinations reinforces the false stereotype that disability corresponds to deficient parenting. Presently, parents with disabilities are four times as likely as parents without disabilities to experience a termination of parental rights and 13% of litigants with disabilities report experiencing discrimination in custody matters.

This CLE will examine the application of the best interest of the child standard as applied in family courts to custody litigants with disabilities. Panelists will cover:

  • Ways advocates can best represent clients with disabilities
  • What evidence is most powerful in addressing the nexus between disability and the care of a child
  • What the role of federal disability law may be in custody determination

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Addressing the Utility Needs of Survivors of Domestic Violence

May 24, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

  • Presenters: Elizabeth Marx and Ria Pereira, Pennsylvania Utility Law Project
  • 1 substantive CLE Credit

In this interactive session, participants will be provided information and tools to address a pervasive economic issue for survivors: utility debt. Participants will engage in a discussion about the unique difficulties survivors face in establishing and maintaining utility services. The discussion will then turn towards how participants can assist survivors to resolve utility issues and best practices for utility advocacy. Topics for discussion will include: recognizing the unique obstacles to survivors establishing and maintaining utility services; available legal protections and assistance programs to address utility affordability; how to understand and navigate the utility termination and reconnection processes; and special protections available to survivors and other vulnerable consumer who are facing utility unaffordability or termination of services.

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Evidence for Your Family Law Practice: Presenting or Challenging Electronic Evidence and Best Practices when Representing Victims of Crime

May 24, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

  • Presenters Professor Jules M. Epstein and Professor Marion G. Braccia, Temple University Beasley School of Law
  • 1 substantive CLE credit

This session will explore the world of electronic evidence - what it is, admissibility standards and other challenges - and then turn to concerns that arise when your client is also the victim of a crime that is being or might be prosecuted.


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Using Civil Litigation to Fight Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation

May 25, 10:00 AM  – 11:00 AM

  • Presenters: Kevin Boswell and Roseanne Milanes, SeniorLAW Center
  • 1 substantive CLE credit

This one-hour presentation by SeniorLAW Center will explore ways in which civil litigation can stop and, in some cases, redress the damages suffered by older adult victims of financial exploitation. Presenters will provide specific examples of successful litigation in the Court of Common Pleas.

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Victims’ Rights and Legal Standing - Understanding Act 77 of 2022

May 25, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

  • Presenters: Andrea Levy, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and Danni Beinschoroth, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • 1 substantive CLE credit

With passage of Act 77 of 2022, crime victims in Pennsylvania now have legal standing to enforce their rights in criminal court. Presenters will provide an overview of the legal rights that are available to a victim in criminal proceedings and how lawyers can seek to protect and enforce those rights. The training will discuss what to look for during the criminal justice process and basic trauma informed legal strategies when providing advice, representation, and/or referrals to victims.  The session will explore victims’ rights assertion though a holistic lens which seeks to avoid retraumatizing survivors of violence while ensuring that their rights are protected.

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

May 26, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM

  • Presenter: Matthew Rich, MidPenn Legal Services
  • 1 substantive CLE credit

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.” 

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Introduction to Trauma-Informed Advocacy

May 26, 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM

  • Presenter: Richard Prebil, Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania
  • 1.5 substantive CLE credit

A trauma-informed approach to services acknowledges the prevalence and impact of trauma, while attempting to create safety for all participants. Through trauma-informed, client-centered advocacy we have the ability to help an individual be empowered to make their own choice, collaboratively with an advocate they trust. Furthermore, advocates can be aware of its impact on our own lives so that we can mitigate the effects of vicarious trauma and burnout.

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PLAN, Inc. would like to thank the CLE Board of the PA Supreme Court for their ongoing funding which makes trainings like this possible for PLAN to offer.

Event Details

Monday, May 22, 2023 to Friday, May 26, 2023
10:00 AM and 1:00 PM Eastern

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