Throughout the past few months, I’ve heard from many teams that it’s been challenging to enact case review. If you’re experiencing this – you’re not alone! Case review can be tricky; it has the tendency to put some members on the defensive, while making other team members wary of overstepping survivor confidentiality.
Case review can be a great way to explore quality assurance and next steps, but – I’m going to say something really bold here – it’s honestly not necessary and might even be more harmful than helpful, depending on the dynamics of your team.
When I was in high school, I took a film photography class. When we would change lenses, film, or make adjustments on the camera, my teacher would always say, “The pieces should go together smoothly; don’t force it. If you have to force it, you’re doing it wrong and could break the camera.” Throughout my time doing and observing SART/CCRT work, this rings true more and more for our teams.
SART/CCRT isn’t easy work, and it also shouldn’t be forced. We might spend years putting all of our time and attention trying to force things so that certain members of the team actually engage or so we can do regular case reviews – those things may not be meant to be forced. You might be using the wrong lens or setting. What I’ve learned is that things feel smooth and (dare I say it?) good when your team is doing the most innovative and impactful work. Everyone feels excited, or at the very least, bought in, and you have momentum; you’re not just forcing and slogging.
Beyond the analogy, what does this realistically look like for our teams? Here are some tangible examples and some shout outs!:
The Shawnee State University team proposed quick response meetings. Instead of a retroactive case review, this looks like relevant team members gathering while a survivor is in need to form a holistic and collaborative response that meets all the survivor’s needs. This is a great way to overcome barriers, ensure effective processes, and have quality assurance in real time.
Shelley Hunt and Breanna Allen, facilitated by Yarimar Soto, transformed the Cuyahoga County SART. They created specific MDTs per issue with a spreadsheet outlining cases so that these smaller MDTs could visualize latency between reporting and prosecution, and how latency can impact survivor engagement and prosecution outcomes. This has significantly sped up the process and created accountability for their team, impacting many survivors and cases.
As a personal example, it meant turning my attention away from trying to pull together a SART with partners who were actively harming survivor. Instead, I made my coordinated community response more about building coalition in local recovery and public health spaces. Then, we began engaging the media, coordinating resource distribution to survivors, hosting and attending events, guest facilitating at each other’s support spaces, and sharing physical and self-care items to the community. Though quality assurance through means like case review wasn’t happening (and I would also argue wasn’t possible with that particular group at that particular time), we were able to mitigate issues of quality. We did this by having informed conversations with survivors about what options in our community could be helpful or harmful, and by giving and receiving feedback about quality from engaged partners one-on-one rather than in a team setting.
All this to say, you have permission to not do case review. In fact, it might be best not to if it feels like you have to force it. Instead, you have many options and may even create a new option for your team.
What things are your teams doing beyond case review? Let us know!
This project was supported by Subgrant No. 2022-WF-VA1-8919 awarded by the state office for the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice’s STOP Formula Grant Program. 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 state or the U.S. Department of Justice.