SARTs and Prevention: 4 Key Considerations
One of the questions that I hear often from teams is, “How can we do prevention within our work?” For a long part of my TA provision, I would have simply said that you do not do prevention within a SART. I had talking points around how SARTs are an amazing set-aside space to truly focus on the response, that there are better ways for communities to do prevention, and that it is simply outside of the scope of teaming. While I have a personal preference for SARTs to not do prevention, I know that many communities still need support in this realm.
Now when teams ask me about prevention, I have four questions I ask them right away:
- Does this fit in the mission of your team?
- Are there other spaces where this work might be done more effectively?
- Does your funding allow you to do prevention work?
- How will you ensure that the longer term systems-change work is still prioritized?
Often these 4 questions lead to a better understanding of the community wants and capacity for adding prevention work to their SART. Often, we find that teams simply aren’t seeing tangible results from their work. Team members don’t get warm fuzzies from doing protocol revision or interagency trainings, and they want to feel that they have accomplished things. That is when we talk about shorter-term goals, team motivation, and really working with teams to help them define what success looks like as a team.
If teams are simply wanting connection to the community, we can talk about other ways of increasing community awareness and connection beyond the team. If there is another group doing prevention work, we can talk about ways of sending a liaison to that group or partnering on specific projects.
Many teams at this point decide that they have enough on-going projects and immediate work that their SARTs shouldn’t be taking on prevention. I find that teams are often overly ambitious and want to commit to things that they don’t have the funding or capacity to do, though the work would be beneficial. It is hard for many team coordinators to say no to a project. But often in providing TA, people come to that realization that prevention efforts are incredibly important but not within the scope of their team at that point in time.
Next week, we will talk about how you might be able to combine systems-change and prevention on teams that are able to undertake that work! Let us know in the comments what has been the driving reason for you to do prevention on your team.