Transferring Training to a Virtual Platform during COVID-19

The Situation 

The North Carolina Guardian ad Litem (NC GAL) program equips community volunteers to serve abused and neglected children by advocating for their best interests in court. All GAL advocates are trained, supervised, and supported by program staff in each county of the state. NC GAL has been a leader in the field in terms of the intentional use of a dialogue-based learning approach in their work. They have served as a model to others around the country and are continuing to do so now as they grow their capacity to bring this approach to online learning.

NC GAL supports 4,000 volunteer Guardians ad Litem and adds 1000 new volunteers each year.

In adapting to the COVID-19 global pandemic, NC GAL sought expertise from GLP to support the transformation of in-person blended training into fully online blended training. NC GAL also aspires to increase its capacity in applying effective learning approaches and developing high quality materials that fully support GAL volunteers and staff.

The Journey 

Global Learning Partners (GLP) worked with NC GAL to do a collaborative and thorough review of the NC GAL Pre-Service Curriculum. We worked to transfer 18 hours of in-person content into a virtual learning environment. See the image of the volunteer’s learning journey below.

The GLP team was made up of individuals with expertise in the Child Welfare system through both personal and professional involvement. This expertise and skill allowed for an in-depth review of the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary for a person to become a valued asset as a NC Guardian ad Litem.

During the review and redesign of the pre-service curriculum GLP continually asked: “What impact will the physical distancing safety guidelines have on the policies and practices of the Guardian ad Litem’s as they work with children, youth and families?” This question helped ensure the focus of the training kept the current environmental changes in mind.

The Impact 

The revised NC GAL Pre-Service Training will be rolled out the Summer of 2020 with multiple trainings for facilitators, staff and volunteer supervisors. County district offices will begin to train new volunteers this Summer and Fall, so volunteers will be ready to begin service as the Stay at Home orders are lifted and children begin to re-enter the public sphere.

It is hoped that the impact of this work will help ensure State of North Carolina continues to offer high quality training for new volunteers despite the current required physical distancing caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thank you to the Guardian ad Litem Division, North Carolina Judicial Branch with Liz Kachris-Jones as lead for their leadership in this statewide model program.

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