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Collaboration in SARTs

By Fatima Jayoma

Happy Wednesday! Today’s blog will be discussing the keys to effective collaboration within a SART. From 2020-2021, SVJI staff at MNCASA conducted ten informational interviews to explore communities’ collaboration needs and barriers to having a formalized SART. We conducted eight interviews with individuals using the SART model but facing challenges, and two interviews with individuals exploring or transitioning to other meaningful collaborative responses to sexual violence. The purpose of these informational interviews was to collect real-life examples from SART members and other leaders to identify needs, barriers, and innovative practices around collaboration.

So, what does collaboration in a SART look like?

Consistent meetings: Whether we are talking about consistency in attendance, meeting day/time, format, etc., a consistent, reliable meeting structure provides the necessary framework for collaboration to thrive. Meetings give important opportunities for team members to bring in their discipline expertise, listen and provide updates on changes, and build relationships with one another. Consistent SART meetings can also help members feel included and that they contribute to the success of the SART. If you are experiencing inconsistency in your team, it might be worth checking in with your team members and seeing if the current meeting structures are still working for them. You can do this in team meetings, 1:1 individual meetings, or surveys. For some tips and ideas on how to convene people and run meetings, check out these blogs:

o   Planning for the meeting (agenda and goals)

o   Setting up the meeting (logistics)

o   Running the meeting (facilitating)

o   Following up (after the meeting ends…)

Centering multidisciplinary and diversity: The goal of collaboration is to benefit from the variety of skills and perspectives present within your SART; to maximize that benefit, diversity and multidisciplinary should be prioritized and emphasized. Ensuring as much diversity as possible among team members can greatly improve a team’s ability to connect to the community and be adaptable and responsive to the community’s needs. In our “A Ten-Factor Framework for Sexual Assault Response Team Effectiveness” report, we wrote about the importance of having a diverse group of disciplines as a part of the team. Having the representation of all core disciplines (advocacy, medical providers, law enforcement, prosecutors/DAs, and Corrections/Probation) is a crucial part of a team’s effectiveness. It is also important to ensure that the team is inviting representatives of other organizations that play important roles in responding to sexual violence. This might include representatives from related/adjacent systems like colleges and universities, community/culturally specific groups, and other points of disclosure and entry into help-seeking. Additionally, a SART must also prioritize individual diversity. In one of our interviews, one SART leader shared, “I’m always encouraging [teams] and really pushing them hard to have a team that really mirrors the community they’re working in and demographics. […] I’m encouraging them to think outside the box and think, ‘who are we missing?'” All SARTs should strive to have members whose identities reflect the full spectrum of community members being served by the team. Doing so will broaden a team’s perspective on what the community is experiencing and what it needs.

Resolving conflict: In one of our interviews, a SART leader shared, “I think you can have protocols in place, you can have MOUs in place, but if you have no way to resolve conflict when it happens, you’re just going to crumble.” Sometimes it feels easier to avoid conflict, but by addressing and navigating conflict, teams can continue moving forward and improving the response to sexual violence in their communities. To resolve conflict, a team must have a trusting relationship with one another. Building trust involves improving communication between SART members and member agencies and improving relationships between member agencies. For more on addressing and resolving conflict, check out these blogs:

o   Conflict Styles

o   Fears and Cheers of Conflict

o   Conflict and the Dominant Culture

o   Addressing Conflict in Teams 

For more information, please contact svji@mncasa.org!


This project was supported by Grant No. 2015-TA-AX-K014 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.