Hold Team Meetings . Monitor and Evaluate Your Efforts . Sustain Your SART . Know Your Team . Critical Issues
Identify Opportunities for Collaboration
Overcome Common Barriers
One of the biggest barriers to collaboration is the reluctance of potential collaborators to participate, which can occur when your chosen SART model doesn't suit your community. Your response to sexual violence best serves victims and criminal justice when you consider the community's specific geographic, political, economic, and ethnic and cultural issues. For this reason, it may be helpful to informally contact potential SART members early in the planning process to determine potential barriers and identify allies.
Before the Dane County Coordinated Community Response to Sexual Assault in Madison, Wisconsin, began, the executive director of the local rape crisis center had personal conversations with every core system in the community. Most had creative ideas to help improve the multidisciplinary responses to sexual violence and were willing to join a team to help make the needed changes.
If you experience resistance from one core sexual assault responder, or more, consider seeking endorsement by local or state officials or their designees (e.g., district attorney, attorney general, sheriff, police chief, city council member). Another option is to organize your SART as a pilot approach; with good planning, tangible outcomes, and community visibility, initially hesitant agencies may eventually choose to participate. The key to SART development is building on the strengths of interested agencies and organizations within the community (e.g., their current collaborations, funding incentives for collaboration).
Several barriers, and potential solutions, are discussed below:
- Turf issues: If there are turf issues, inform reluctant agencies that you are seeking a victim-centered model that respects each agency's roles and responsibilities.
- History of collaboration: Before forming a SART, it is important to have honest conversations with participants about the history of collaboration between organizations. If there has been an unfortunate community history, either among organizations or individuals, point out the differences between what has happened in the past and what is currently proposed.
- Isolation: If there are limited service organizations within the community or if there is little support for your SART, consider forging new partnerships. For example, rural SARTs may minimize isolation by forming partnerships with public health agencies and community-based treatment centers or combine resources with organizations in surrounding townships or counties.
- Funding: If there seems to be no funding available to meet your SART's organizational and administrative needs, look for creative funding streams within the community, including corporate and foundation grants. (Also see Sustain Your SART in this toolkit.) At the same time, begin to work on organizational issues that are significant, but require little or no funding, such as collecting local statistical data, reviewing the current responses to sexual assault, drafting a mission statement, or defining core team values.
- Lack of public awareness: Potential team members may not understand the benefits of a SART or may have apprehensions about the credibility of partnering agencies. To overcome this, keep a victim-centered and public safety focus, provide data on the scope of sexual assault in the jurisdiction, and develop public awareness materials.
If there is little organizational capacity for forming a SART, try bridging gaps by working with state legislators to form statewide task forces. For example, the Oklahoma Task Force to Stop Sexual Violence, which was created in 2006 by House Resolution 1010, studied and made recommendations concerning the funding of services throughout the state for victims of sexual violence.