Celebrating CILA Boot Camps: Supporting Advocates Working with Detained Youth  

Since 2017, CILA has offered Boot Camp trainings for detained children’s legal service providers. CILA’s Boot Camp is a signature CILA training. This blog post celebrates the advocates in the field doing this important work as well as this key training that CILA is proud to provide. 

The training is designed for attorneys, legal staff, and social services staff who are working with detained youth and who are new to the field. CILA initially hosted the training two times a year for legal service providers’ staff in Texas. Boot Camp began as an in-person training and transitioned to a virtual event due to COVID-19. In 2022, CILA expanded the number of Boot Camp trainings to three and began offering the training nationally to the Vera network of legal service providers. As of 2023, CILA now provides Boot Camp training virtually six times a year with participants nationwide.

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Boot Camp is a three-day virtual training for new legal service providers’ staff who work directly with detained unaccompanied children. The purpose of CILA’s Boot Camp is to provide context to the unique circumstances of working with detained unaccompanied children in a safe space where new staff can learn vital skills that will help them become holistic advocates. The CILA team and external speakers come together to provide a dynamic, interactive training. Presentation topics include child interviewing techniques, working with Indigenous youth, engaging youth in a group setting and Know Your Rights (KYRs), ethics, oral advocacy, and OTIP letters and violations of children’s rights.

The CILA team is continuously inspired and encouraged by the advocates at the training and those working in this field. Below is a visual of a favorite icebreaker question the CILA team often poses to attendees at the beginning of Boot Camp. The question asks for advocates to share their “why”—why they are engaged in this work. The range of responses shows that for many working with immigrant children is a calling and a pursuit where advocates bring their passion, interests, and dedication to serving others and working toward justice.

Example Icebreaker at a CILA Boot Camp

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CILA is proud to offer this training that supports attorneys, legal staff, and social services advocates at the beginning of their careers and roles. Boot Camp offers a space for advocates to meet others doing similar work across the nation to encourage more community and collaboration. This is challenging work, and CILA is happy to offer the training and tools advocates need to succeed from the beginning—to effectively work with clients, prioritize self-care, and to balance the demands of their role. The CILA team additionally shares many resources that advocates can use as they gain more experience in their positions to further encourage more skill development and deeper learning.

To learn more about Boot Camp, contact CILA at cila@abacila.org.