SART Foundations: Case File Review
Guest Blog By Jolene Engelking (SVJI Staff member, partially funded under Rural)
One of my favorite parts of my job is getting to talk with and learn from Sexual Assault Response Teams from around the country. One thing that comes up is teams wanting to use sexual assault case files as part of the work of their team. For some teams, this is how they decide to start their team. They dig deep into the current response to help them shape the work going forward and to have concrete ideas about what might be needed for a strong response to sexual assault in their community. Other teams have been working together for a while and want to use it as a next step in how they look at evaluation and as a way to see the impact of changes in policy and protocol. Teams are able to see intended and unintended consequences of changes as well as learn more about other areas that they could strengthen in the response.
But, teams across the countries are doing so many different formats and frameworks for what they mean by case review. Teams often do some sort of systems consultation by talking broadly about themes or concerns they have about something within the response. Some teams are looking at active/open cases and giving input on the investigation or prosecution of that case. Other teams do one time presentations or reviews of a single case. While this is a good start for many teams, the process of Case File Review involves looking at multiple, closed case files to pinpoint themes and gaps within the response. Teams who do this model seem to be more likely and better equipped to create long lasting change within their work. The chart below goes into a bit more depth on the different models.
While SVJI’s work primarily focuses on the Case File Review, SART coordinators should work with their team to discern what process would work best for their work and their community. Communities sometimes need to think creatively about the best method of case review. Teams often also consider case review as one part of their overall assessment plan, which also might include hearing directly from victims/survivors or site visits to various agencies. Regardless of how your team decides to do case review, SVJI staff is available to talk you through that process and brainstorm ideas with you.