The Whole and the Parts

By:  Karen Hangartner, LMSW, Project Director, SRCAC

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” This statement is particularly applicable to the Child Advocacy Center movement. The movement is made up of many moving parts that must collaborate and communicate with one another to effectively support the work of local CACs and multidisciplinary team professionals. While getting all these parts to work together may sound like a complicated undertaking, there is good news! Dedicated organizationsat every level of the movement—state, regional, and national—share a commitment to the common goal of providing hope and healing to abused children. And while each organization may work a little differently toward the goal, in the end, all are committed to the success of the movement and supporting those who play a part in it.

At Southern Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (SRCAC), we work toward this goal in many ways. SRCAC serves 16 states, and within those states, there are 314 CACs representing 41% of the CACs nationally. Over a third (32%) of state chapters in the country are located in the Southern Region. SRCAC’s vision is for all children to receive justice and healing. Our mission states that we provide training and support for Children’s Advocacy Centers, chapters, and multidisciplinary team professionals so abused children have access to trauma-informed, collaborative investigations, and services that promote justice and healing. These two statements are at the core of how we structure our work.

Other beliefs that guide our work include:

  • This work is challenging and isolating; therefore, it is essential that CAC professionals have access to other CAC professionals for support and guidance. To achieve this, we are committed to holding in-person trainings and meetings that will provide rich learning and networking experiences. We offer trainings which allow professionals to gain knowledge and skills while building a professional network of support. We also provide opportunities for chapter leadership to come together to share information and ideas and find support.
  • Chapters are vital for the continued growth of the field; therefore, we are committed to working closely with our chapters to support their continued growth and development. We believe that the key to dynamic local centers is a strong state presence, which can influence legislation, funding, and develop strategic statewide partnerships that will advance the work of CACs in the state. Strong chapters have close relationships with their member centers and have the capacity to support their needs: from accreditation to training to crisis management.
  • Working directly with local CACs, their boards, and MDTs across states helps us stay in tune with the latest developments in the field. Because of the varied capacities across the region, SRCAC remains the primary training resource for many of our states.
  • The Regional Children’s Advocacy Centers (RCACs) and National Children’s Alliance are stronger collectively than individually. As such, we are committed to developing and maintaining strong collaborative relationships with our national partners. Our work together focuses on how to support chapter development and to identify and meet the training needs of child abuse professionals.
  • Quality training should be accessible for professionals. SRCAC is working on three new online initiatives expected to launch in late 2017/early 2018. Specific training topics will include:
    • What CAC Executive Directors Need to Know About. . .
      • Forensic Interviewing
      • Medical
      • Victim Advocacy
      • Mental Health
  • Vicarious Trauma Blueprint
    • The four RCACs will collaborate on this project, which will include a combination of online trainings and train-the-trainer opportunities
  • Board Blueprint
    • This online training is targeting CAC board members and will include modules on board members’ basic roles and responsibilities, hiring, evaluating, and supporting the ED and how they can effectively support and represent the CAC to the community.

Other initiatives include:

  • Research to Practice Modules and Resources
  • Tuition and Travel Assistance

What does all this mean to the local CAC? There are resources to support your mission to serve abused children in your community. You have partners to help you develop the capacity you need and to celebrate your victories and successes. There are also partners who understand that this work can be heartbreaking, that sometimes we just need to shed a few tears with someone who understands, or rage about the atrocities we see every day.  You have partners that can remind you—even when it does not feel like it—that the work you do is heroic, and you are a superhero. It is a privilege to be part of this whole movement and to do this work with you.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

For the latest updates from WVCAN, enter your email below to subscribe to our newsletter.