How to Become a Child Advocate

Three Methods:Pursuing a Career as an AdvocateVolunteering as a Child AdvocateMaking a Difference as an Advocate

Many children are in need of a better support system. Child advocates come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some are social workers, attorneys, and even volunteers. All child advocates work to make sure that the child's best interests are being met. Whether you are considering a career as a child advocate, or looking for a volunteer opportunity, there are several steps you can take to start making a difference.

Method 1
Pursuing a Career as an Advocate

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    List your career goals. A career as a child advocate can be very rewarding. It is fulfilling to know that you are making a positive difference in society. Take some time to reflect on your career goals to find the path towards employment that is right for you.[1]
    • Think about your strengths. Do you want to make a difference by working with individual children? Or would you rather take a leadership role and manage volunteers?
    • Consider your personal timeline. How much time are you willing to commit to furthering your education? You should also think about the financial resources you are willing to commit.
    • Write down your goals. Figure out what type of work will be fulfilling. List the steps you will need to take to make those goals happen.
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    Choose a degree path. There are several different routes to becoming a child advocate. Most of them require a specific degree. However, there are several different paths you can take to fulfill the educational requirements.[2]
    • Research Human Services degrees. A degree in Human Services will offer an interdisciplinary approach.
    • When you pursue a Bachelor's degree in Human Services, you will take classes in topics such as criminal justice and sociology. If you choose to pursue a Master's Degree, you will then choose a specialization.
    • Look into a Social Work degree. This academic path will provide you with the opportunity to specialize in working with children.
    • A degree in psychology is also a common choice for child advocates. You will be able to choose your specialization early on.
    • You can also pursue a law degree. You can choose to become an attorney who specializes in child advocacy.
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    Find the right program. Once you have determined which degree you want to pursue, it is time to find the right school. Make a list of schools that offer the program that you are interested in. Then spend some time doing research so that you can make an informed decision.[3]
    • Ask about the application process. You can call or e-mail the school's admissions office for information. Ask if there are pre-requisites or entrance exams that you need to be aware of.
    • Choose the right location. You want to go to a school that fits your needs, but you also need to make sure that it is convenient. Visit the schools near you to get a sense of what your commute will be like.
    • Consider the time commitment. Are you interested in stopping after your Bachelor's degree? Or will you be pursuing an MA, JD, or PhD?
    • Ask if the school offers any joint or combined programs. These can help expedite the amount of time you spend in school.
    • Talk to current students. Ask about their overall experience, the interaction with faculty, and their satisfaction with the program in general.
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    Look for a job. After you have completed your education, you can begin your job search. Ideally, your university will have several programs in place to help you begin your career. Make sure to take advantage of all of the resources available to you.[4]
    • Visit the Career Placement office. Most colleges have counselors devoted to helping you to find a job. Ask them for the best way to begin applying for jobs.
    • Utilize your network. Reach out to everyone you know in your chosen field.
    • Contact former professors and ask if they know of any job openings. You can also ask if they will be willing to serve as a reference.
    • Update your resume and cover letter. The career services office at your university can also help you with this. Spend time polishing your materials and asking for feedback.
    • Apply for multiple jobs. When you are beginning your job search, it is a good idea to cast a wide net. Submit your materials to several places to enhance your chances of getting a job.
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    Hone your skills. Once you have found a job, you can continually work to become a more effective child advocate. This field changes frequently, and often fluctuates depending on state laws and budgets. Stay informed about the changes in your field.[5]
    • Pursue continuing education. You can attend conferences, workshops, and seminars with other professional child advocates.
    • Do pro Bono work. If you are an attorney, consider donating some hours each month to understaffed programs.
    • Stay active in your professional network. Subscribe to publications such as newsletters and journals so that you stay current on information. These outlets will also tell you about networking opportunities.

Method 2
Volunteering as a Child Advocate

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    Find an organization. Maybe you already have a career but are interested in finding a way to help children. You can find many ways to volunteer to make a difference as a child advocate. Your first step is to research organizations that offer child advocacy services.[6]
    • Consider a national organization. One of the largest is Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).
    • Go to the website to find out if there is an organization office near you. If there is not, ask if there is another local organization that is similar.
    • Do your research. Make sure that the organization you are considering is reputable. Ask former volunteers to tell you about their experience.
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    Learn the qualifications. Once you find the right organization, find out what it takes to be a volunteer. Contact the volunteer coordinator for information. Take note of all of the requirements.[7]
    • Many programs will ask for a certain time commitment. For example, programs involving children will often ask you to commit to 1-2 years as a volunteer.
    • You might also need to make yourself available for a certain amount of hours each week or month. Get specific information about how much time you are expected to volunteer during a given period.
    • Be prepared for a background check. Many organizations that involve children require prospective volunteers to go through a thorough background check.
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    Choose the right role. There are likely many different ways to serve as a volunteer. Ask the volunteer coordinator to tell you about each of the different roles that are offered. You can then chose the one that best fits your strengths.[8]
    • If you want to work directly with children, make that clear. CASA and other organizations utilize volunteers as advocates who work with individual children.
    • Maybe you want to help children, but are not emotionally prepared to work with children in distressing situations. Consider taking on a different role.
    • For example, you could become a fundraiser. If you excel at planing and coordination, you could find great success raising money for worthwhile causes.
    • Do administrative work. While you are training to become an advocate, you can find other ways to help the organization. You can answer phones and distribute fliers around the community.
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    Complete training. When you have figured out what type of volunteer work is right for you, you can begin your education. Many organizations have thorough training that you must complete. Take this into account when planning your timeline to becoming a volunteer.[9]
    • Generally, you will be expected to attend an orientation session. At orientation, you will learn more detailed information about the duties of a volunteer.
    • After orientation, you will often need to complete a training course. Many courses are a 30-40 hour commitment.
    • These courses are usually done over the period of a few weeks. The time commitment for orientation is often intense.
    • During your training, you should ask as many questions as possible. This is also a great time to get to know other volunteers.
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    Volunteer your time. After completing your training, you are finally ready to volunteer. If you are a CASA volunteer, this means that you will begin working with children. As a volunteer, you will work to get to know the child that you are assigned to.[10]
    • Volunteers work to learn information from the child. You will ask about placement, about school, and other aspects of life.
    • Typically, volunteers will handle 1-2 cases at a time. Your supervisor will help you figure out the right work load for you.

Method 3
Making a Difference as an Advocate

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    Change a child's life. Whether you are a professional advocate or a volunteer, you will make a significant difference in many people's lives. Child advocates make a big impact on the children they work with. There are many benefits to having child advocates involved in a case.[11]
    • Child advocates help keep children out of foster care. They also help prevent drop-outs and help to raise performance on test scores.
    • Child advocates help individual children and society as a whole. Advocacy leads to better school environments and less juvenile crime.
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    Support other family members. As an advocate, you will be helping families. In many cases, you will help a child find a home with a permanent adoptive family. This is yet another way child advocates make a difference.[12]
    • When you help to create families, you are helping to create joy. By helping to create more stable home environments, you are helping the family and society.
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    Practice self-care. Being a child advocate is very rewarding. You will likely feel fulfilled and proud of yourself. However, it can also be emotionally draining.[13]
    • It is important for advocates to remember to practice self-care. This means making sure that you are taking time to meet your own emotional needs.
    • Give yourself permission to take a break. Maybe at the end of the day, you want to turn your phone off and take a bubble bath. That's okay.
    • Take a day off from work when you need to. Everyone needs a mental health day every once in a while.
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    Remember your own needs. You are doing very important work as a child advocate. In order to be effective, you need to remember to take care of yourself, too. If you're not at your best, this challenging job can become even more difficult.[14]
    • Get some exercise. Physical activity can keep your body healthy and can also be a mood booster. Aim to get 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
    • Stay rested. When you have an emotional job, it is particularly important to get enough sleep.
    • Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep tonight. Create a sleep schedule to make sure you are meeting these needs.


  • Expect a long term commitment.
  • Make sure that you are prepared for the emotional elements of being an advocate.
  • Do your research before beginning the process of applying for jobs.

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Categories: Volunteer and Community Service