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SARTs and the Phases of Systems Change

I frequently get to work with Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs) that collaborate to bring about some pretty big changes to how we respond to sexual violence in our communities. Whenever I work with these SARTs, we usually talk about how to embed the work they do into the large processes that are a part of the criminal justice response. Yet, whenever I talk about the term “systems change,” it causes many people to pause and/or ask questions.

This month is dedicated to talking about the concept of systems change—what it is and how we go about making sure we are doing systems change in our SARTs.

At the most basic level, systems change is a continuous improvement process used by multidisciplinary professionals to develop, modify, and enhance the individual practices, agency policies, and systems procedures that affect how we respond to sexual violence victims/survivors. This is the heart of any SART’s work, and yet, we all struggle to do it really well or consistently.

At the Sexual Violence Justice Institute, we have developed a continuous improvement process called the “3 Phases of Systems Change.” The phases are 1) Assess the Status Quo, 2) Make Change, and 3) Measure the Change. Over the next few weeks we will cover each of the 3 phases in-depth. This process is an easy way to visualize and plan the work of your SART and to ensure that your efforts result in effective changes and solutions for your community!