What Goes into Being a Client Advocate at Caring Network Illinois?
When Caring Network Illinois was first founded, our Client Advocates were a team of wonderful volunteers who were committed to serving our organization. As Caring Network Illinois grew, the Lord encouraged us in our work, and our understanding of the need for counseling for unplanned pregnancies grew, Caring Network decided it was time to hire full-time counselors – our Client Advocates. It was time to provide extensive training to become as equipped, God-honoring, supportive, and effective as possible. Over the years, our Senior Director of Client Services has put immense thought, prayer, and research into what our training should consist of for our Client Advocates. With a bit of a holy bragging (because it is truly all because of God’s grace and provision) we are one of the most equipped, well-trained pregnancy centers in the country.
So, what does goes into the training to become a Client Advocate? Training a Client Advocate is a task that is overseen by the Director of Client Services. It is completed with the direct guidance of an experienced Client Advocate lead, with additional training from other client team members. The goal for a new Client Advocate is to be trained and serving women confidently by the end of the 3rd month after hire. When a Client Advocate is hired, they are given 3 benchmarks to reach in order to complete their training in an efficient, successful, and timely manner. (Interested in volunteering with us? Check out our volunteer opportunities here.)
Benchmark #1 – completed in the first month of the Client Advocate’s training. It includes:
- Become aware of how the agency functions, and our office procedures
- Learn the computer programs and phone operating system
- Begin the 20-Hour Training Packet
- Become familiar with all literature given to clients
- Observe hotline calls
- Learn how to answer the hotline.
Benchmark #2 – completed in the second month of the Client Advocate’s training. It includes:
- Complete 20-hour training
- Become familiar with how a client session goes. Learning lingo, paperwork, materials and resources given, how the tests are performed, etc.
- Observe Client Advocates in client sessions (with clients’ permission)
- Start to role-play client sessions
- By end of the month, start to be observed seeing clients with basic needs
- Learn the importance and techniques of emotional and spiritual counsel
- Become thorough and accurate in entering paperwork, notes, and stats
- Learn how to text with clients.
Benchmark #3 – completed in the third month of the Client Advocate’s training. It includes:
- Continue refining above skills
- Start to see more complex cases, while being observed.
- Participate in client marketing, including blog writing
- Ensure familiarization with Clinic Manual
- Continue role-playing clients
- Continue answering hotline calls while being observed
- Be flexible to see clients at different offices
- Be observed by the Director of Client Services during a complex case.
Client Advocates engage in conversations with minors on the importance of their safety and well-being. Client Advocates are trained to identify any mandated reporting situations and other warning signs (e.g. disparity in client ages or “power dynamics”). Client Advocates often have the opportunity to engage in spiritual discussions and share the truth, love, and redeeming grace of Jesus with women impacted by an unplanned pregnancy.
Consultations often include opportunities to discuss abstinence and healthy, safe relationships. Identifying and resisting coercion is commonly discussed. Client Advocates use a tool called RAM, which stands for Relationship Attachment Model. This tool is used to help the client visualize where she prioritizes the actions of “knowing, trusting, relying, committing and touching” when it comes to her relationships. Client Advocates also use brochures like “It’s Just Sex, Right?” and “Sense & Sexuality” to help clients learn about respecting themselves, the importance of others respecting their decisions, when “no” means “no,” and the chemical and emotional parts that sex plays in a relationship.
Compassionate Care While Serving with Excellence
Although we hire staff for their ability to compassionately and effectively serve women, we also prioritize hiring team members who will accurately gather and record data according to expectations. Core competencies for Client Advocates include “thoroughness” and “results oriented.” The job description for the position includes “Data entry, accurately updating client files and recording and maintaining center statistics,” “Correctly inputting data from client files,” and “Contributing to the compilation of accurate and timely statistical reports.” Our commitment to accurately collecting and reporting data is reflected in our training practices. In individuals’ monthly coaching meetings, their personal metrics are reviewed.
Not only do our Client Advocates have a very technical side to their job (extensive three-month training program, logging statistics, following mandated procedures and protocol), but our Client Advocates also have truly beautiful hearts. Our Client Advocates genuinely care about the women they serve. This is not just a job to our Client Advocates – this is their passion and their calling. They love like Jesus day in and day out, client after client. They rely on the Lord for their strength, while encouraging women to be courageous and to choose life. Our Client Advocates are truly a blessing from the Lord.
Do you think you have what it takes to become a Client Advocate for Caring Network? If so, visit caringnetwork.com/careers and consider applying today!