CONNECTING COMPLEX SYSTEMS

CONNECTING COMPLEX SYSTEMS

In the months after #MeToo began trending on social media, there was a 56% increase to KCSARC’s 24-Hour Resource Line. While we never could have predicted that this hashtag would take off in the fall of 2017, we have known for a long time that survivors need more, and better connected, supportive services. And we have been preparing to expand our services across the county.

King County is uniquely complex, with 39 law enforcement jurisdictions, three courthouses, 28 hospitals, and eight Child Protective Services offices.

We also know that the complex systems in our county are faced with tremendous and often competing demands. We are often called upon to assist law enforcement, Child Protective Services (CPS), and medical providers to respond more effectively to the needs of survivors through training, sharing of best practices, and other resources.

That’s why we pursued, and received, federal funding to create a brand-new position at KCSARC: the Inter-Agencies Liaison. During this first year of service, the Inter-Agencies Liaison has focused on assisting law enforcement, CPS, and medical personnel in effectively supporting people who have experienced assault.

Funds from the federal government cover the direct costs of this position, and individual contributions fill in the gaps: from printing resources to sending staff to vital trainings to researching federal grant opportunities, your significant support means that we can better connect our area’s complex systems—and better support survivors.

Research shows survivors are more engaged and feel more positive about the process when they experience a systems response that is respectful and transparent. That’s why we are helping law enforcement to better support survivors in the immediate aftermath of an assault. 

Law enforcement officers are often the first responders in the aftermath of sexual assault. We know for survivors, the initial response from people they turn to for help is critical, and that initial response often includes law enforcement.

The Inter-Agencies Liaison’s goal is to reach patrol officers and first responders, help them understand how trauma impacts a person, and provide them with resources to share with survivors.

In 2017, the Inter-Agencies Liaison trained staff at the Kent, Auburn, Lake Forest Park, Tukwila, Bothell, Duvall and Bellevue police departments, and will continue to build deep and longstanding partnerships with law enforcement throughout King County.

We are also ensuring Child Protective Services (CPS) staff better understand the impacts of sexual abuse on children. CPS works with children and youth who are at considerable risk for sexual abuse. Their demanding job is made more challenging by high rates of staff turnover, making it difficult for one-time individual staff training to be effective.

To remedy this challenge, we are developing an ongoing training on trauma and its impacts to be delivered to CPS staff quarterly by the Inter-Agencies Liaison.

Finally, we are working to strengthen relationships with area hospitals where survivors get medical evaluations (also known as rape kits). Our area is fortunate to have the Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress and its Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program through UW Medical/Harborview Medical Center and partner hospitals. 

For a county the size of King County, it’s also vital that there are SANEs in South King County with good referral relationships to KCSARC.The Inter-Agencies Liaison position has established a partnership with Rapid SAVE Investigation (RSI), a Portland-based company that provides on-call SANEs to several South King County hospitals, including St. Elizabeth in Enumclaw, St. Francis in Federal Way, and others in the CHI/Franciscan Health and MultiCare hospital networks.

Our goal is to ensure that people who have experienced abuse or assault and who need medical care or a forensic exam receive it from an experienced SANE. SANEs are a best practice to offer aftercare resources to survivors, and we are working to ensure that the network of SANEs and sexual assault service providers are well connected.

Comments

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options