Victim advocates are professionals trained to support victims of crime.
Some of their role includes:
- Answer telephone/hotline line
- Walk-in crisis intervention
- Medical-evidentiary exam response
- Law enforcement statement accompaniment
- Courtroom accompaniment
- Be the voice of the survivor
- Individual, ongoing supportive counseling
- A hand to hold/a person to lean on
- Support group facilitation
- Family/significant other supportive counseling
- Be an EXTREMELY knowledgeable resource
- Follow up
Advocates offer victims information about the different options available to them and support victims’ decision-making. Advocates do not tell victims what to do. Advocates are committed to maintaining the highest possible levels of confidentiality in their communications with victims.
Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Certification Requirements for a Sexual Assault Victim Advocate
The following requirements must be completed and approved by the Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ACASA) prior to awarding certification.
- An applicant must be an employed staff member or volunteer of an ACASA member agency OR be an individual member of ACASA and write a detailed letter as to why you need this certification.
- The applicant must have passed a criminal background check, be at least 21 years of age, and if a survivor must be at least a year beyond the assault.
Certification Requirements for Sexual Assault Advocates:
- 30 hours of training with at least 15 hours of classroom training; the remainder (up to 15 hours) may be obtained through self-study. Self-study must be reviewed and approved by the center’s certified trainer or executive director.
- 10 hours of supervised direct service is required to be completed within 1 year of completing the 30-hour certification training to obtain certification (also described as on-the-job training). The following outline is a recommendation for direct service; however, an applicant may submit a different plan to meet the 10-hour direct service requirement based on their job description to be approved by the center’s certified trainer or executive director.
- A minimum of 2 hours of individual intervention and/or group counseling with survivors.
- A minimum of 4 hours of systems advocacy in person or by telephone providing crisis intervention or facilitating interaction of survivors with a system or process. These hours need to be completed with more than 1 survivor. Examples of this would be, but are not limited to, hospital, court accompaniment, law enforcement, employer or landlord.
- A minimum of 2 hours responding to sexual abuse crisis telephone calls, providing information, referrals, and supportive listening.
- All direct service will be documented on a form that is provided by ACASA and must be signed by the applicant and the person providing direct service supervision.
The Certification Process
Once an advocate has completed the training requirements, the agency will provide documentation to ACASA which will then issue a certificate to the advocate. ACASA will maintain a register of certified advocates. Agencies will provide documentation to maintain the advocate’s certification on an annual basis.
A minimum of 10 hours continuing education will be required annually after certification to maintain certification. Continuing education may be delivered in the classroom or as self-study. Academic credits in a related field earned at institutions of higher education may be counted toward the continuing education requirement at the discretion of the sexual assault services coordinator. Other options may include, but are not limited to, attending Advisory Council meetings, web-based training, special workshops and/or conferences approved by the executive director of the sponsoring agency.
Failure to Maintain Certification Requirements
If an advocate fails to complete the requirements and the certification expires, the advocate may write a letter of explanation to the executive director of the supervising agency to request an extension. The director will consider the request and either approve or disapprove an extension. If the advocate fails to meet the extension requirements, the advocate will lose certification or have to complete the certification process in its entirety.
Provision for Grandfathering Experienced Advocates
Persons with more than one year of experience as a sexual assault advocate may be granted certification status as long as they have completed or provided at least 15 hours of training on sexual assault victim advocacy and provided at least 40 hours of direct service to two or more sexual assault survivors within the past year.