First Witness Advocacy Training for Advocates Working With a Child Advocacy Center

First Witness advocacy training seeks to build a community of advocates who share knowledge, insights, skills and support as they continue their work.


More than 30 years ago, the movements to end violence against women and children began with largely volunteer groups working out of church basements, houses, and small community offices. Initially, many advocates were themselves survivors of physical and sexual violence. Early advocates connected women and children to resources and safety. They also identified solutions to the larger problem of societal/family or gender violence.

Today, advocates exist in a variety of capacities and specialties within non-profit and government organizations. We work in an age of increased public awareness, organized criminal justice response, and ongoing funding within the child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence movements. Although these factors allow for a higher level of services, often the notion of broader social change is lost. Advocates are relegated to bullet-point job descriptions, the ultimate goal of which is providing service rather than creating change.

Register online via First Witness.


First Witness Advocacy creates an advocacy perspective rooted in the experiences of those hurt by violence and abuse. This perspective informs the advocacy practice as well as the policies and job descriptions that define advocates’ roles. It also guides program and organizational development, system interventions and community understanding of the social problems at the root of violence and abuse. With the First Witness Advocacy perspective, advocates and organizations can better respond on both the individual and the societal levels, creating long-term safety for abuse victims and entire communities.

First Witness Advocacy bridges the gap between individual advocacy with one victim and system-based advocacy that creates change for many victims. This is in contrast to more restrictive advocacy models that are based on delivering services identified by practitioners. Through hands-on practice, participants will learn how to put advocacy principles into action, including conducting a focus group to improve programming, changing organizations and systems and creating programs and interventions that meet victims’ needs. Participants will practice skills for effective crisis intervention and advocacy, problem solving and decision making around the toughest issues in advocacy work. They will leave with answers to the following questions:

  • “What are my options for advocacy within the system?”
  • “How do I make sure the victim’s voice is present in the change I’m seeking?”
  • “How does my organization support advocacy-based work?”
  • “What gives me credibility as an advocate, and how can I enhance this?”

First Witness advocacy training seeks to build a community.

Participants will

  • Understand the principles of social change advocacy and how to use them in their work
  • Understand how societal beliefs and values impact advocacy
  • Learn and practice crisis intervention and counseling
  • Explore controversial issues in advocacy such as confidentiality, boundaries and neutrality
  • Learn how to create system change and facilitate focus groups with families
  • Learn about how to build child and family resiliency in the face of abuse
  • Learn how to create an advocacy-based organization and a community of advocates
  • Understand the advocate role and how to work within a multi-disciplinary team structure
  • Learn about the victim advocacy standard for National Children’s Alliance Accreditation

Who should attend

  • Advocates working within a child advocacy center
  • Advocates working within sexual assault or domestic violence agencies who work with a child advocacy center
  • Directors or managers within child advocacy centers
  • Victim witness specialists
  • Any advocate working on behalf of survivors of physical and/or sexual violence and/or child abuse


August 16, 2021
August 20, 2021
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First Witness
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