SART TOOLKIT: Resources for Sexual Assault Response Teams
Develop a SARTPrint Print

Build Your SART

We can never make those who have been victimized whole again, but we can provide services to help them move forward.

                                                             —John W. Gillis, Former OVC Director, 2003  

How SARTs decide to organize and work together depends on the individuals, organizations, and agencies invited to participate and the resources available at local, regional, state, territory, tribal, or institutional levels. The levels of partnership and formality vary depending on the economic, political, and historic structures within jurisdictions. However, SARTs generally share a common purpose—to provide comprehensive and specialized services, ensure continuity of care for victims, enhance evidence collection, and increase public safety.  

For the purposes of this toolkit, cooperation, coordination, and collaboration are all acknowledged as avenues to forming SARTs. Collaboration, however, usually provides the most comprehensive model for responding to sexual violence. For this reason, this section emphasizes ways to build SARTs as a collaborative response.

The Three Cs

Cooperation occurs when multidisciplinary agencies informally exchange information, as needs arise.

Coordination occurs when multidisciplinary agencies work together with an understanding that their missions are compatible.

Collaboration occurs when multidisciplinary agencies commit to share resources, refer victims for services, coordinate or respond to sexual violence as a team, and monitor and evaluate interagency responses through quality assurance mechanisms.

Read on to learn how to—

Form a Planning Team

Building a SART requires forming a planning team to bring together agencies and organizations that respond to sexual violence and have culturally specific expertise and/or power to change systems. One person or several agencies must be willing to commit the time and effort required to form a team and to lead interagency sexual assault responders through the planning process. The team must be built on a foundation of respect, understanding, and trust, which can be cultivated into a long-term sense of ownership for the SART's plans and purposes.

Remember the Victim

Including victims' voices in meaningful ways during the early planning stages will help ensure that your SART's design is culturally responsive, practical, and relevant to a host of victims' needs and criminal justice objectives.

Many different individuals can be instrumental in cultivating a SART. For example, the team concept could start when—

Or, SARTs could be organized on a broader level. For example—

Although your plans for creating a SART may start with inspiration from an individual, agency, or small group, the development of a team is ideally a collaborative process with core agencies (e.g., advocacy programs, law enforcement agencies, sexual assault forensic medical examiner programs, crime labs, prosecution) serving as equal planning partners.

Establish SART Leadership

SARTs need leaders who are committed to sustaining the team concept over time and who will collaborate effectively among agencies, programs, and funding sources. SART leaders need to understand multidisciplinary roles and responsibilities and integrate resources in ways that are victim centered, cost effective, and mutually beneficial across disciplines. Successful leaders need analytical skills to weigh options, management experience to organize SART objectives and set agendas for team meetings, and group facilitation/conflict resolution skills to promote communication among team members.

There are many different ways to lead and effectively organize SARTs. Some planning teams start by having each participating agency donate its time and services during the planning phase. Once the SART is established, some hire coordinators to provide administrative oversight. Other planning teams have obtained funding for a coordinator's position from the onset to help with preliminary organizational activities and information gathering.

Find a SART Coordinator

The importance of a SART coordinator cannot be overstated. Having someone coordinate your SART's activities and provide administrative leadership helps to keep your team motivated and focused. If you decide not to include a designated coordinator's position, it could be difficult to maintain momentum over the long term.

This section provides tips on how to—

Create a Job Description

Finding the right SART coordinator starts with a clear, concise job description. Use the following template as a guide when developing a description for your SART coordinator position.

Interview Candidates

Interviewing a SART coordinator requires finding out about the individual's personal strengths, decisionmaking skills, and work style/experience. The key to hiring the right coordinator is knowing the right questions to ask during the interview. Standardizing the questions helps to identify extraordinary candidates among a pool of applicants. Interview questions that can help you evaluate the best candidate might include the following:

The overall goal during an interview is to learn as much about each candidate as possible and determine if the candidate's knowledge, skills, and abilities include both leadership and administrative qualities. Most important, it will be crucial for the coordinator to respect the roles of each team member and to commit to victim-centered and criminal justice objectives.

Define the SART's Jurisdiction

A SART jurisdiction may be a local community, state, territory, tribal land, campus, military installation, national park, or multicity, multicounty, multistate, or multi-SART region. When defining your SART's jurisdiction, consider the specific problems victims may encounter when navigating multiple service areas, identify jurisdictional concerns for interagency collaborators, and assess the legal considerations for incorporating local, state, and federal regulations into a SART model.

Without intentional consideration of jurisdictional issues, uncertainty about an appropriate SART response may arise and lead to delays in services for victims and stalled criminal investigations. Proactively address complex issues before they arise by assessing state laws, creating local and regional multidisciplinary protocols and guidelines, and establishing regional partnerships with medical, legal, and advocacy agencies that victims may contact.

Generally, SARTs are created within specific geographic regions based on political or economic conditions, available resources, and multijurisdictional considerations; other jurisdictional issues can come into play as well. This section reviews these issues:

Political Conditions

Different political conditions within a region could affect your decision to set up a SART in that region. For example, upholding the sovereignty of tribal governments is crucial to effectively addressing violence against American Indian victims. Yet when an assault takes place within the boundaries of a reservation, very often tribal law enforcement cannot fully protect the victim because of cross-jurisdictional issues. It is important to remember that American Indian victims living on reservations are also citizens of the state and the United States and are entitled access to state, federal, and tribal programs that respond to sexual violence victims.3

Available Resources

Regardless of the jurisdiction's geographical size and makeup, it is important to consider how many law enforcement agencies, hospitals, and community advocacy programs serve the area to effectively coordinate a response among each entity.

For example, rural jurisdictions may be challenged by geographic isolation, limited access to services, the need to travel large distances for a single response, minimal funding for specialized services, privacy concerns for victims, and widespread economic depression.

If a region has limited resources, you may want to identify agencies and facilities in neighboring areas with which you can join to develop a regional response, or consider partnering with other victim service organizations in the area. For example, a shelter for battered women with spare office space might be temporarily designated for sexual assault forensic exams.

Urban areas also have challenges. They may need to coordinate services among incorporated and unincorporated portions of a city, determine how to establish partnerships with agencies that have limited free time due to high case loads, work to coordinate services among multiple service providers, or streamline the SART activation process. For example, the SART of Brevard County, Florida, streamlined its services through an agreement with the Salvation Army, which is the designated domestic violence shelter. The Salvation Army offered space at its new facility for performing medical forensic medical exams for victims county-wide. Previously, these exams had been performed at six busy hospital emergency departments in the county, where there were no shower facilities readily available. To ensure proper oversight, the local public health department agreed to provide a medical director for the new exam facility.

Multijurisdictional Considerations

Victims do not live in a vacuum. SARTs that serve victims in the Armed Services may need to coordinate their response between local and military authorities and health care practitioners. Serving American Indian victims often requires SARTs to coordinate with federal, state, local, and tribal service providers. Campus SARTs need to be prepared to integrate the sexual assault responses of campus security and local law enforcement and of community-based and campus-based advocacy and health care providers. SARTs within rural jurisdictions or that border other states need to develop cross-jurisdictional guidelines to ensure a consistent response among medical responders, legal responders, and advocates, regardless of where victims first seek services.

If your SART involves cross-jurisdictional collaborations, you must gather information about state statutes, health department regulations, and federal grant certifications within each jurisdiction to ensure that your SART's activities and services comply with them. You also should create protocols or guidelines that honor each state's laws during interstate collaborations. Basic decisions, protocols, and working agreements among jurisdictions help to ensure that services will be available immediately when victims seek services at any given agency or organization.

When developing your protocol or guidelines, you will need to consider—

Other Jurisdictional Issues

Jurisdictional issues can surface in many other ways (e.g., sexual assault of U.S. citizens in foreign countries, sexual assault of undocumented victims). Two examples—border issues and cruise ships at sea—are discussed briefly here.

The Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center borders a tri-state area that includes eastern Arkansas, northern Mississippi, and western Tennessee. Victims sexually assaulted in regions bordering Memphis are transported to the center, which is a designated site for sexual assault medical forensic exams. Center advocates keep informed of each state's victims' rights laws and forensic nurses travel between states to testify as experts or provide information on the forensic evidence collected. Despite the jurisdictional lines, differences in state laws and statutes, and distances between agencies, victims receive continuity of care from the first call for help to the offenders' sentencing because of the multistate collaboration.4

The Cruise Line Accurate Safety Statistics Act was introduced in 2006 but was not passed. It would have required that cruise ships report any serious crimes against Americans on board to authorities within 4 hours. The bill also would have required cruise ships to have sufficient procedures and equipment in place for conducting investigations of crimes on board. The legislation also would have guaranteed that victims would know where to turn in the event of a serious crime by requiring cruise tickets sold in this country to include a list of all U.S. embassies and consulates in each country the ship would visit during its voyage.

Assess Community Readiness

Before you form your SART, you'll need to understand the following issues as they relate to your community:

To determine whether the community is prepared for the long-term commitment of establishing a SART, collect data on the following:

This data-informed planning can be especially useful for SART organizers. Information collected can answer questions about the frequency of sexual assault, where it is happening, its victims' demographics, and its perpetrators' mode of operation. The data can then be used to compile resources, examine service delivery, and address risk factors.

Obtaining data is crucial to creating your SART's mission and establishing team goals and objectives that are specific to the needs and resources of your jurisdiction.

Data collection doesn't stop after this initial assessment of community readiness. You should continue collecting information after you establish your SART to track your success over time, aid future requests for funding, and inform researchers and policymakers of trends that need to be addressed. Because of this, data collection is described in much more detail in the next section of this toolkit, Collect Data, which discusses interagency statistical data, community needs assessment surveys, victim surveys, focus group findings, and public forums.

Identify Opportunities for Collaboration

Think of your SART as part of a system rather than as a single project. Collaboration can help you better align your community's resources with victims' needs to increase the effectiveness of service delivery, provide specialized educational opportunities in the community, improve interagency communication, and offer greater outreach to underserved or marginalized populations.

This section reviews how to—

Find Partners

To determine collaborative opportunities, begin by considering natural allies (e.g., individuals or groups with a stake in the prevention and/or intervention of sexual assault). Are there local agencies and organizations that have grant funding that mandates that they collaborate? Are there organizations from surrounding communities that are willing and available to collaborate?

For example, in 2004, the Secretary of Defense sent a directive to all military branches regarding collaboration with civilian authorities to support sexual assault victims. The memorandum stated that it is U.S. Department of Defense policy that military installations in the United States (and overseas, where appropriate) shall establish a formal memorandum of understanding with local community service providers and other military services.

Civilian and Military Collaboration

Nellis Air Force Base, located just minutes from the Strip on the edge of Las Vegas, works closely with the community-based rape crisis center. The civilian-military partnership is positioned to meet the needs of 60,000 potential military beneficiaries. To generate public awareness of the coordinated civilian-military services, the base's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office generates public awareness materials that include the phone numbers of both the military's sexual assault response coordinator and the rape crisis center.

Source: Suzanne Moore and Kristina Heick, Innovations for Program Success, Nellis AFB, NV: Nellis Air Force Base, 2006.

Core first responders to sexual violence are natural allies. Depending on the jurisdiction, this includes advocates, law enforcement officials, sexual assault forensic examiners, prosecutors, and forensic laboratory personnel. In addition, consider groups and social structures that might stand to gain by supporting the creation of a SART. They could include educational institutions, public health agencies, substance abuse agencies, faith-based organizations, domestic violence agencies, and mental health facilities, among others. A good approach for identifying natural allies is to look creatively within the jurisdiction and assess which service providers might assist victims medically, legally, economically, spiritually, psychologically, or financially.

Although not specifically a SART, an example of a comprehensive community partnership is the Ann Patterson Dooley Family Safety Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The center houses community partners that include a domestic violence/sexual assault advocacy center; the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (provides clerical help and victim services); the District Attorney's Office; the Sheriff's Office; the Police Department; a faith-based organization; and the Multicultural Service Center. The site offers direct services to clients and provides a convenient location for partners to inform each other of interagency issues that need to be addressed to coordinate or improve services.

Partnerships, beyond providing direct services, may also help your planning and outreach efforts. For example, local corporations and businesses might be able to donate meeting spaces and equipment, such as photocopiers and computers. Businesses, whether large or small, may help by publishing SART documents, providing technological expertise for interagency communications and data collection, or offering direct financial support for your overhead expenses.

Tapping local resources not only helps implement and sustain SARTs, it is a strategic form of public awareness that can prompt more community ownership in both the prevention of sexual violence and intervention when it occurs.

Integrate Community Services

The long-term sustainability of your SART rests on your ability to build on the unique strengths and assets of people, institutions, and organizations within the region. In preparing for a sustained multidisciplinary response to sexual violence, consider the following questions:

Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Response Teams

The Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault works with communities that have one coordinated team for both domestic violence and sexual assault response. Having teams address both these crimes helps stretch their resources, but it can also be challenging to address both issues during single, coordinated team meetings.

Other SARTs have integrated their team meetings with child advocacy centers (CACs). According to the National Children's Advocacy Center, "a CAC is a child-focused, community-oriented, facility-based program in which representatives from many disciplines meet to discuss and make decisions about investigation, treatment, and prosecution of child abuse cases. They also work to prevent further victimization." In Fairbanks, Alaska, for example, the CAC meets monthly and the SART meets quarterly. Each team attends the other team's meetings. On the other hand, in Kotzebue, Alaska, the CAC and SART meetings are combined. Kotzebue is a remote region that is small in population (under 10,000) but large in size (about the size of Indiana). By combining CAC and SART meetings, Kotzebue gets the largest turnout from its first responders.

Another way to integrate services is through family justice centers. The Office on Violence Against Women's Family Justice Center Initiative started in 2003. Its goal is to make a victim's search for help and justice more effective by bringing professionals who provide an array of services together under one roof. (The Ann Patterson Dooley Family Safety Center in Oklahoma is one example of a family justice center.)

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.

Involving Potential SART Agencies During the Planning Stage

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:

Filling Resource Gaps

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.

Develop Budgetary Resources

When considering budgetary needs, you must realistically determine what can be provided by team members and what resources might require additional funding. To start the budget process, identify existing resources within core agencies and potential external resources for donated items and services. Next, determine your staffing needs and identify volunteer support. Other team costs may not necessarily be high because the purpose of SART is to promote communication and collaboration among existing agencies, and the costs for team members' time or SART facilities may be absorbed by participating agencies.

Depending on the jurisdiction and its community resources, other budgetary considerations include the following:

Decide on Core Membership

Some communities invite core responders from advocacy, law enforcement, health care, prosecution, and crime labs to plan and oversee the SART (e.g., monitoring the response to sexual violence) once it is established. Other communities start by establishing steering committees to plan the SART and then transfer oversight responsibilities to advisory committees or coordinating councils composed of core responders and/or community leaders.

Participating core members must have a clear perception of the need for a SART, understand what will be expected of them, and be willing to commit to scheduled planning meetings. SARTs do not redefine core members' agency roles per se, but rather integrate them into a new, collective identity that draws on each member's professional expertise.

Core Competencies

Those who meet with victims must be trained in victim issues, crisis response, violence prevention, and multidisciplinary cooperation. Use the following list of competencies as a catalyst for developing, prioritizing, and customizing core competencies for responders in your jurisdiction:

  • Can communicate non-judgmentally and compassionately with sexual assault victims, their families, and friends.
  • Understands the importance of survivors' rights to self-determination.
  • Knows state and national laws, rules, and regulations regarding sexual violence, including mandatory reporting responsibilities.
  • Knows the laws and ethical principles that apply to medical, legal, and advocacy responders.
  • Knows how to provide assessments, interventions, and prevention programming that are culturally competent.
  • Is aware of factors that increase vulnerability to sexual violence (e.g., disability, age, isolation) while in no way blaming victims for these vulnerabilities.
  • Knows developmentally appropriate questions for interviewing victims.

Source: Used with permission from Debra Seltzer, Ohio Department of Health.

Primary responders to sexual assault generally include victim advocates, law enforcement officers, sexual assault forensic examiners, crime lab specialists, and prosecutors. For SART planning purposes, the toolkit also lists for consideration personnel from emergency medical services, dispatch, public health, mental health, and faith-based organizations.

This section briefly reviews the roles and responsibilities of the following potential SART members:

For more detailed information about how potential SART team members respond to victims of sexual assault, see Know Your Team.

Victim Advocates

Advocates promote victims' rights and assist with their emotional, physical, psychological, economic, and spiritual needs. Although there is a clear distinction between community- and government-based advocacy (e.g., community-based advocates may hold statutorily defined privileged communications whereas government-based advocates do not), the general role of the advocate is to ensure that addressing the victim's full range of needs is a priority.

On a SART, victim advocates—

Law Enforcement Officers

Many jurisdictions have more than one law enforcement authority. Law enforcement agencies can include city or county police; sheriff's offices; highway patrol; state, tribal, campus, and military police; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and U.S. State Park Rangers. For example, the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians in Washington State patrol tribal parks and wilderness areas and have full police authority throughout the reservation. Some rangers—particularly those employed by public agencies (e.g., U.S. National Park Service)—have police powers and enforce laws in parks and surrounding areas.

No optimal single approach determines which department serves on a SART. Possible options include selecting a permanent member from the law enforcement office that investigates the largest number of sexual assaults or asking law enforcement offices that operate in the jurisdiction to select a permanent representative and then invite other agencies as needed. Each jurisdiction needs to develop the approach that best satisfies its needs.

On a SART, law enforcement officers—

Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners

Sexual assault forensic examiners are health care providers who receive specialized training in how to conduct sexual assault medical forensic examinations and fulfill clinical requirements to be certified as a sexual assault medical forensic examiner.

On a SART, sexual assault forensic examiners—

Forensic Laboratory Personnel

A criminalist searches for, collects, and preserves physical evidence in the investigation of crimes; examines evidence by means of physical and chemical analyses; prepares reports of findings; and gives expert testimony in court.

On a SART, forensic laboratory personnel—


A prosecutor is a governmental trial lawyer who investigates and tries criminal cases. Prosecutors are typically known as a district attorney, state's attorney, or United States attorney.

On a SART, prosecutors—

EMS Personnel

Emergency medical services (EMS) personnel—paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and medical first responders—are responsible for providing early, pre-hospital treatment to those in need of urgent medical care and rapid transportation to an emergency department, when necessary.

On a SART, EMS personnel—


The 911 operator determines whether the victim is in need of emergency medical attention and in a safe environment, collects pertinent case information, and accurately relays this information to the responding officer in a timely manner.

On a SART, dispatchers—

Public Health Officials

Public health officials practice the science and art of preventing disease and promoting health through an organized community effort. Their expertise includes ongoing assessment of the community's health care needs, injury prevention, emergency response planning, and control of communicable infections.

On a SART, local, city, county, state, or federal public health officials—

Mental Health Officials

Core mental health professionals include psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatric nurse specialists, and marriage and family therapists.

On a SART, mental health officials—

Faith-Based Organizations

Faith-based organizations are an integral part of our Nation's social service network. They can help your SART create referral networks and assist victims with their spiritual concerns (e.g., faith-based communities that form partnerships with community-based advocates can offer onsite counseling as a collaborative effort between clergy and community-based advocacy5).

On a SART, members of faith-based organizations—

Schedule a Planning Meeting

Once you have collected community data and identified agencies you want on the team, it is important to establish a time and place to bring everyone together to discuss the SART model and establish interagency relationships. Determine the goals for the initial planning meeting up front, such as obtaining interagency buy-in, facilitating community readiness, or determining multidisciplinary coordination issues.

The location for the initial organizational planning meeting may or may not be a permanent location for the SART. Wherever meetings are held, they should be easily accessible, private enough to support the SART emphasis on victim confidentiality, and comfortably accommodate all participants.6 Using meeting rooms at public libraries or other nonparticipating organizations or educational institutions may go a long way in rallying community support for the SART model. Other options include donated space at participating agencies.

This section reviews—


In the meeting invitation, describe the SART model, emphasize its positive goals, and express appreciation for the participation of those you invite. Define the process as a partnership and clearly outline your expectations. You may want to include the proposed SART structure and team members' roles and responsibilities, as follows:


During the initial planning meeting, allot time for participants to introduce themselves and identify a current sexual assault issue that could be better addressed through interagency collaboration. In addition, use the Planning for a SART (Word) assessment tool in this toolkit to discuss current statistics and responses to sexual violence, thereby underscoring the SART's value. Or use the SARTs at Work video to show the importance of multidisciplinary and interagency collaboration.

The Right Tool

Before the initial meeting concludes, get confirmation from team members that they are interested in being involved and ask for feedback on what they would like to see on future agendas. Participants also need to decide when and where future meetings will be held and who will coordinate them. In these subsequent planning meetings, you may want to include a brief presentation by a victim of sexual assault.  

Statements of Commitment

You can make an agency's commitment to participate on a SART official by drafting a short commitment form for participants to sign. To minimize miscommunication if there are staff turnovers, have each SART representative cosign the statement of commitment along with the agency's executive officer.

The commitment form can outline the SART's basic expectations such as developing victim-centered, culturally specific protocols; supporting quality control measures for SART responses; and working to coordinate efforts with other agencies to assist victims and enhance the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault. It is also helpful for the form to suggest that if SART members are unavailable for meetings, they agree to provide another representative from the agency to act on their behalf.

Expand SART Membership

When you first establish your SART, it is best to work with as few people as necessary to meet your objectives. The more people involved, the more likely they are to encounter difficulties in learning about each other, balancing power, coming to agreement on issues, and coordinating the work. Once established, you may want to expand the team to help guide culturally relevant responses, make good referral connections, and incorporate risk reduction and prevention education into your outreach efforts.

Potential new members to add include stakeholders who support SART work, such as allied organizations and funders, and survivors of sexual assault, who can help you make informed decisions about critical needs for victim-centered responses. For each group of stakeholders, you'll need to determine the issues they care about, why they care, what they can do, how they will mobilize to respond, and how you will achieve cross training.

By diversifying and expanding your SART's membership, you can build leadership to support a wide range of victims' needs and help criminal justice professionals secure expert resources. New members also add fresh vitality to the team. Ultimately, providing victims with an integrated team of service providers helps them receive all the assistance they need.

Consider the following agencies and individuals—not an exhaustive list—when expanding your team:


Key Terms

Cooperation: Multidisciplinary agencies informally exchange information, as needs arise. SARTs formed through cooperation are characterized by informal relationships that exist without any commonly defined mission, structure, or planning effort. Cooperation is a good choice when partnering organizations expect only to exchange information.

Coordination: Multidisciplinary agencies work together with an understanding of compatible missions. SARTs formed through coordination include open communication and an understanding of interagency roles and responsibilities without formalized agreements (e.g., memorandums of understanding). Coordination is a good choice when partners share common short-term outcomes or plans and resources to enhance mutual objectives.

Collaboration: Multidisciplinary agencies commit to share resources, refer victims for services, coordinate services or respond to sexual violence as a team, and monitor and evaluate interagency responses through quality assurance mechanisms. SARTs formed through collaboration bring previously separate organizations into a new structure, with a new identity defined by a common mission. Such a relationship requires comprehensive planning, well-defined interagency responses to sexual violence (e.g., SART protocols or guidelines), and open communication channels (e.g., regularly scheduled team meetings). Collaboration is a good choice when agencies want to address issues proactively and systemically.

Community mobilization: An approach to expand community partnerships to provide more inclusive and responsive services and to enhance public awareness of sexual violence. To mobilize a community is to invite more organizations to share their expertise as team members or as advisory members.

Coordinating committee/advisory board: These committees or boards serve as a permanent, multidisciplinary groups established to monitor, evaluate, and address issues that arise once a SART is formed. Members can include law enforcement, prosecution, health care, victim advocacy, and governmental officials and other professionals from the community who respond to sexual assault or work to end sexual violence.

Documents and Materials

Benchmarking 101 for Nonprofits
Provides the basics of benchmarking including what it is, how it can be useful, and how it differs from evaluation.

Building Comprehensive Solutions to Domestic Violence: Skills for Successful Collaborations (Curriculum)
Covers collaborative mindsets, negotiation, strategic thinking, and meeting facilitation.

Building Stronger Sexual Assault Survivor Services Through Collaboration
Describes key roles for community sexual assault coalitions (or task forces). The manual, which can be useful for communities starting SARTs or expanding collaborative partnerships, provides samples and checklists for needs assessments, memorandums of understanding, community resources, mission statements, and self-evaluation instruments.

Capacity Building Defined and Demystified
Defines six components of capacity building and includes links to capacity-building activities and other resources.

Collaboration: A Training Curriculum to Enhance the Effectiveness of Criminal Justice Teams
Assists multidisciplinary criminal justice teams in establishing or enhancing collaborative relationships. All teams can benefit from this curriculum, whether newly formed, long established, or tasked with a specific project or broader purpose (e.g., a multiagency council mandated to oversee all criminal justice activities in a jurisdiction).

Collaboration Framework—Addressing Community Capacity
Helps SARTs that are either starting collaborations or need help in strengthening existing collaborations. Once a SART has been established, the document may be used as a diagnostic tool for evaluating the team's continued development and expansion.

The Collaboration Primer
Provides useful tips for health care professionals that can be adapted across disciplines. The document reviews foundational as well as more abstract elements of successful partnerships and includes a checklist of questions and issues to consider before embarking on collaborative arrangements and examples of model partnerships.

Community-Based Criminal Crisis Response Initiative: Assessing Community Needs
Provides information on a community-based, multidisciplinary approach that is tailored to the needs and resources of a community and designed to enhance services to victims and reduce their trauma. This report reviews the steps involved in developing a coordinated response and includes information on the planning process that may be helpful to SARTs.

Conflict Management in Community Organizations
Describes the types, dimensions, and effects of conflict and ways to manage it.

Confronting Violence Against Women—A Community Action Approach
Provides criminal justice professionals and community activists with a hands-on, step-by-step guide to forming a coordinating council and describes several innovative councils that are successfully countering violence against women in their communities. Available via e-mail from the National District Attorneys Association.

Developing Effective Coalitions: An Eight Step Guide
Helps partnerships launch and stabilize successfully by reviewing how to determine the appropriateness of a coalition, select members, define key elements, maintain vitality, and conduct ongoing evaluations. Although the examples given are specific to injury prevention coalitions, most can be applied to coalitions working on various health-related issues.

Free Basic Guide to Leadership and Supervision
Describes management skills for new managers and supervisors. Topics include core management skills, staffing, employee training, employee performance management and personnel policies, and sustaining the work.

Gauging Progress: A Guidebook For Community Sexual Assault Programs and Community Development Initiatives
Lays the groundwork for thinking about how to gauge progress, with an emphasis on how to conceptualize evaluation of a community development initiative. The information can be useful for SARTs in developing and expanding team roles and responsibilities that can be monitored and evaluated. The appendix includes several useful organization and evaluation tools that SARTs can customize.

Getting It Right: Collaborative Problem Solving for Criminal Justice
Spells out a practical, team-based approach to assessing current systems and implementing strategies for change. It was developed primarily for local criminal justice policy teams that want to work together to promote safety, prevent and solve crime, and hold offenders accountable.

How to "Nimble-ize" a Collaboration
Includes 10 principles for creating a resilient collaboration structure and why they are critical to success.

Implementing Evidence-Based Principles in Community Corrections: Collaboration for Systemic Change in the Criminal Justice System
Assists multidisciplinary criminal justice teams in establishing or enhancing collaborative relationships. The appendixes include essential elements of collaboration and collaborative models for implementing change.

Implementing Evidence-Based Principles in Community Corrections: Leading Organizational Change and Development
Describes concepts and strategies that foster organizational change and reform. Sections include changing the way business is done, organizational case management, the leadership challenge, the influence of infrastructure, the integrated organizations change process model, managing transitions, and structural supports for change.

Leadership in Victim Services
Focuses on the differences between management and leadership and explores the principles of leadership and the qualities of exceptional leaders. Specifically, the material includes information on ethics, resiliency, ownership, problem solving, team building, and facilitation.

Learning About Victims of Crime: A Training Model for Victim Service Providers and Allied Professionals
Summarizes the training and education efforts of the Victim Services 2000 initiative in Denver and how the Denver site approached cross-training victim service providers and allied professionals in faith communities, law enforcement settings, and judicial and other legal settings.

Looking Back, Moving Forward: A Program for Communities Responding to Sexual Assault (Workbook)
Assists interagency councils in organizing and carrying out the steps for developing and implementing a multidisciplinary, multiagency, victim-centered protocol. The workbook has easily customizable letters, media releases, meeting agendas, and other tools.

Making Collaboration Work: The Experiences of Denver Victim Services 2000
Documents the Victim Services 2000 collaborative model in Denver, discussing leadership, use of technology for case management, community advocacy, and lessons learned.

Office of Justice Programs Financial Guide
Assists OJP award recipients in fulfilling their responsibilities to safeguard grant funds and ensure that funds are used for the purposes for which they were awarded.

Reshape Newsletter: Dual Coalitions
Provides a series of articles on how dual coalitions that deal with domestic violence and sexual assault issues simultaneously can address multiple service needs equitably.

Revisiting the Critical Elements of Comprehensive Community Initiatives
Describes effective outreach and how to sustain levels of involvement, address cultural issues, and address the challenges of collaboration.

Sexual Assault Response Teams: Partnering for Success (DVD)
Provides a history of and context for the multidisciplinary response to sexual assault, describes the benefits of a collaborative response to victims, highlights the progress the field has made in serving victims, and addresses emerging issues facing first responders and ways in which those challenges continue to shape the response of SARTs.

Six Best Practices for Complex Collaborations
Describes collaborative practices that improve success.

The Tension of Turf: Making It Work for the Coalition
Discusses common types of turf struggles and reasons why they occur and offers recommendations for limiting negative turf issues. Companion piece to Developing Effective Coalitions: An Eight Step Guide, which focuses on coalition startup.

Three Keys to Being an Effective Community Leader
Describes core competencies for leadership.

Tips for Getting Technology Funding        
Discusses six ways to improve the prospects of getting technology funding.

Using Technology To Enable Collaboration
Examines Denver's automated information system, which is a critical component of its interagency collaborative effort. It also suggests how other sites can develop and maintain technology-based solutions to serve victims of crime.

Online Tools

Asset-Based Community Development Institute
Provides publications, tools, and resources for asset-based community outreach. The institute also has a listserv for community builders around the country to share experiences and exchange ideas.

Collaboration Assessment Tool
Allows multidisciplinary coalitions to identify strengths and areas of growth and enables them to gauge progress over time.

Collaboration Multiplier
Allows multidisciplinary coalitions to evaluate each partner's skills.

Community Tool Box
Provides practical guidance to promote community development. Sections discuss issues such as leadership, strategic planning, community assessment, grant writing, and evaluation, among others. Each section includes a description of the task, its advantages, step-by-step guidelines, examples, checklists, and training materials.

Community Organizational Assessment Tool
Helps guide group discussions about how teams are functioning. Although the questions are structured for nonprofit board members, the form can be used as a gauge for SART members to use to assess their perceptions of team dynamics.

Collaboration Toolkit: How to Build, Fix, and Sustain Productive Partnerships
Provides practical guidance to law enforcement agencies as they develop and sustain partnerships that support community policing.

Ohioline—Community Organizing
Links to information on community organizing and coalition building.

OVC Strategic Planning Toolkit
Serves as a guide to use throughout the strategic planning process.

OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center
Focuses on strengthening the capacity of victim assistance organizations throughout the country. The center's training and technical assistance activities are coordinated through three core functions: needs assessment, capacity building, and evaluation.

Part E. Leadership, Management, and Group Facilitation (Community Tool Box)
Includes information about the core functions in leadership, becoming an effective manager, and group facilitation and problem solving.

SART Listserv
Supports the work of SARTs nationally and promotes peer-to-peer technical assistance among community and professional organizations and agencies that respond to sexual violence.

Toolkit to End Violence Against Women
Provides concrete guidance to communities, policy leaders, and individuals engaged in activities to end violence against women. Each chapter focuses on a particular audience or environment and includes recommendations for strengthening prevention efforts and improving services and advocacy for victims.

Wilder Collaboration Factors Inventory
Helps users assess how their collaborations are doing on 20 research-tested success factors.


1 North Dakota Office of the Attorney General, 2005, North Dakota Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Protocol, 4th ed., Bismarck, ND: Office of the Attorney General, State of North Dakota.

2 Julie Coffey, Manager, nd, Memphis Tennessee Sexual Assault Resource Center.

3 National Council on Disability, 2003, Understanding Disabilities in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities: Toolkit Guide, Washington, DC: National Council on Disability.

4 Julie Coffey, Manager, nd, Memphis Tennessee Sexual Assault Resource Center.

5 Courtney Ahrens and Rebecca Campbell, 1998, "Innovative Community Services for Rape Victims: An Application of Multiple Case Study Methodology," American Journal of Community Psychology 26(4): 554.

6 American Prosecutors Research Institute and National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 1998, Confronting Violence Against Women: A Community Action Approach, Alexandria, VA: American Prosecutors Research Institute, 34.

7 C.T. Steele, 1998, "Sexual Abuse and Chemical Dependency," The Source 8(3).

8 North Dakota Office of the Attorney General, North Dakota Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Protocol, 4th ed.

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