WRCAC Roundup

The WRCAC Roundup is a monthly communication featuring the latest news from the Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC).  Each issue of the WRCAC Roundup is structured around one key topic or aspect of our work that is central to building strong multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs) and children’s advocacy centers (CACs). Throughout each issue, we highlight what we are learning and doing as it relates to child abuse intervention, professional development, and justice and healing for kids, and share relevant research, resources, and events from our team and our partners across the country.

All WRCAC Roundup issues will be archived on this page for easy viewing.

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Disclaimer: The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this product are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.

Previous issues are listed below, beginning with the most recent release. Click “Read More” underneath each title to access the full article.

Issue 19: Understanding Tribal Sovereignty to Improve CAC Services

According to 2020 United States (US) Census data, over 80% of the population identifying as American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) resides in the western region of the United States. Many tribal reservations in the west are geographically isolated and have limited access to important services. To increase access to children’s advocacy center (CAC) services that are culturally responsive, CACs must first ensure they understand a key concept specific to AI/AN communities: tribal sovereignty. Read More >>

Issue 18: Understanding Purpose: A Key to Multidisciplinary Team Development and Leadership

The Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center has been committed to helping strengthen multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) and children’s advocacy centers (CACs) throughout the thirteen states in our region. Through our work with individual CACs as well as state chapters, we have provided technical assistance, customized trainings and resources to help teams more effectively respond to child abuse in their communities. One of the keys to strengthening MDTs is to understand how important the concept of “purpose” is to both individuals and teams as a whole. Read More >>

Issue 17: Addressing Mental Health Workforce Challenges Within Children's Advocacy Centers

Children’s advocacy centers (CACs) work hard to provide pathways to healing for children and families. However, providing mental health services onsite or through linkage agreements has become increasingly difficult as referrals outpace availability of therapists. Identifying local trauma-trained professionals, even in large urban areas with a rich pool of licensed therapists, can prove difficult. The challenge is more daunting in rural and frontier communities where far fewer licensed mental health professionals live1. To the extent that qualified trauma-focused treatment providers exist in rural areas, they are often found in limited numbers, and families may experience long waits before therapy can be initiated. This shortage often means relying on generalist mental health professionals who do not specialize in evidence-based trauma treatment.  Read More >>

Issue 16: Managing Change and Transition on the Multidisciplinary Team

Before jumping into this article, take a moment to think of the first word or feeling that arises when you read the word change. What is your initial response? Does it feel expansive or restrictive? Perhaps somewhere in between? We started with this exact question at the MDT Facilitator Peer Forum in June, a virtual space for multidisciplinary team (MDT) facilitators hosted by the four regional children’s advocacy centers (RCACs). The responses were wide-ranging: fear, opportunity, exhaustion, innovation, and resistance are just a sampling of what we heard during the forum. Read More >>

Issue 15: Building a Statewide Telemental Health Network to Support Children Living in Rural Montana
Children’s advocacy centers (CACs) are uniquely positioned to support a child’s recovery from the psychological and emotional effects associated with trauma. However, not all mental health providers or mental health treatments are equal or equally accessible. Children and youth served by CACs need and deserve access to providers skilled in trauma treatment. The National Children’s Alliance’s National Standards of Accreditation have moved assertively in recent years to require CACs to employ or partner with providers trained in select evidence-based trauma treatment models. Meeting this expectation is challenging even in the most resource-rich communities, but for CACs serving largely rural and even frontier regions (where less than 6 people live per square mile), the challenge can be more daunting. Qualified providers may not be within reasonable driving distance for children and families living far from population centers, or providers may be overwhelmed by referrals and children must wait months to initiate therapy. Read More >>
Issue 14: Executive Coaching to Support Effective State Chapter Leaders
State chapter organizations play a key role in the children’s advocacy center (CAC) movement, serving as a leading resource for CACs in their state and facilitating a network of providers dedicated to a coordinated and comprehensive statewide response to child abuse. Our staff at the Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC) believe strong state chapters lead to strong CACs, and that building strong state chapters requires effective state chapter leadership. However, we also know state chapter leaders face many challenges in this work, and often lack the professional support and development needed to strategically guide their state’s response to child abuse without burning out. Read More >>
Issue 13: Learning by Doing: The Value of Peer Networks
Oftentimes the hardest part of attending a training is what happens after the training ends. How do you take all the knowledge and skills you have learned in the controlled setting and apply it to the reality of your multi-disciplinary team (MDT) or children’s advocacy center (CAC)? How do you know if you are adapting and implementing the knowledge effectively? The ability to transfer learning from training into practice has been estimated to be as low as 15 percent, which suggests other strategies are needed to make learning more effective and grounded in real-life situations. Read More >>
Issue 12: Addressing the Health and Well-Being of Children's Advocacy Center Staff and Partners
Staff members at children’s advocacy centers (CACs) and their multi-disciplinary team (MDT) partners are at the forefront of a community’s response to child abuse and neglect. While this work undoubtedly presents key intrinsic rewards, it can also take its toll. There have been many terms used to describe this impact, including vicarious trauma (VT), burnout, secondary traumatic stress (STS), and compassion fatigue. With the advent of COVID-19, employee stress and burnout have reached peak levels, leading many to re-think whether they want to continue working in this field. Read More >>
Issue 11: Task Sharing in a Children's Advocacy Center: Expanding the Reach of Mental Health Services
In 2018, the Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC) developed a strategic plan for improving access to high-quality, trauma-focused mental health services for children served by children’s advocacy centers (CACs) in rural and frontier communities. One promising pathway that emerged was “mental health task sharing,” which involves pairing mental health clinicians with paraprofessionals and intentionally delegating tasks in ways that expand the reach of mental health services. In CACs, task sharing allows a licensed clinician to focus on activities that require advanced skill and licensure (e.g., clinical assessment, evidence-based treatment, etc.) and utilizes a paraprofessional partner (typically a victim advocate) for other important tasks that do not require advanced education or licensing, (e.g., initial screening, client engagement, case management and advocacy). Through this task sharing collaboration, more clients are effectively served with a limited number of licensed professionals. Read More >>
Issue 10: The Role of the MDT Facilitator in the Children's Advocacy Center Model
Since the first children’s advocacy centers (CACs) emerged in the late 1980s, they have relied on key individuals who championed the multidisciplinary team (MDT) and kept it focused on healing and justice for the children and families it served. These MDT Facilitators, as we often refer to them today, made the difference between a good team and a great team. Recognizing the pivotal role MDT Facilitators serve, the Regional Children’s Advocacy Centers (RCACs) have partnered for the last three years to professionalize and elevate the role of MDT Facilitator and define MDT Facilitation as a core discipline on the MDT. Read More >>
Issue 9: Improving Trauma-Informed Care and Practice in Children's Advocacy Centers
As we better understand the life-long effects of trauma experienced in childhood, we are more acutely aware of the need for children’s advocacy centers (CACs) to provide services that acknowledge trauma’s impact and allow children and families to heal. The CAC model is by design a trauma-informed approach; by providing a child-friendly environment, performing forensic interviews with appropriately trained interviewers, conducting quality screening and assessments, and making referrals to culturally appropriate services through advocacy, CACs are providing services consistent with trauma-informed principles. Read More >>
Issue 8: Collaborating to Improve Culturally Appropriate Services for American Indian and Alaskan Native Children
The Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC) provides training and technical assistance (TTA) to increase access to children’s advocacy center (CAC) services for children and families, with special attention paid to tribal communities and those serving American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth in rural, urban, and tribal jurisdictions. This focus on Native families is particularly relevant in the western region, where approximately 80 percent of federally recognized tribes are located and over 1 million individuals who identify as AI/AN reside. According to Child Maltreatment 2019, AI/AN children have the highest rate of victimization at 14.8 per 1,000 children, indicating a need for a thoughtful and culturally appropriate response… Read More >>
Issue 7: Strategies to Support the Growth and Development of State Chapters
The Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC) recognizes state chapters as critical entities in efforts to provide accessible, high-quality, and evidence-informed services for children and families through children’s advocacy centers (CACs). Chapters are well-positioned to understand the unique needs of CACs in their states and can connect their centers to resources, training, and technical assistance to best meet those needs. To ensure the thirteen state chapters in the western region of the US have the support and resources required to do their work, WRCAC assesses the strengths and needs within chapters and assists in the strategic allocation of training and technical assistance resources. Most recently, our efforts have focused on strategic planning as a key tool to guide state chapters through a rigorous, inclusive process to define and sustain their role as leaders in their state’s response to child abuse. Read More >>
Issue 6: Technology Lessons Emerging from the WRCAC Statewide Telemental Health Pilot Project
In 2018, the Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC) launched the Rural Mental Health Project to increase access to specialized trauma treatment for children and families served by children’s advocacy centers (CACs) in rural communities. Much of the project’s work, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, has focused on effective telemental health (TMH) service delivery. WRCAC launched a comprehensive online Telemental Health Resource Center (TMHRC) in 2019, and then launched a Statewide Telemental Health Pilot Project in 2020 in collaboration with Children’s Advocacy Centers of Washington (CACWA) and Children’s Alliance of Montana (CAM), who are now accessing training and technical assistance to plan, develop, and sustain their TMH networks. Read More >>
Issue 5: The Role of the Victim Advocate in the Multidisciplinary Response to Child Abuse
Throughout history, people have chosen to act on behalf of or in support of another, whether formally or informally. As defined in the Oxford Languages dictionary, an advocate is “a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy,” or “a person who pleads on someone else’s behalf.” Synonyms of the word advocate include champion, supporter, and proponent.  The children’s advocacy center (CAC) model was developed with key disciplines of law enforcement, prosecution, child protective services, medical and mental health coming together through a multidisciplinary response to child abuse. As the model evolved, the role of the victim advocate was recognized as an essential member on the multi-disciplinary team (MDT)… Read More >>
Issue 4: Hosting Virtual Meetings and Services

The movement of in-person activities to a virtual environment is one of many ways the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the daily activities of children’s advocacy centers (CACs). From hosting online meetings to offering telehealth services, video conferencing platforms allow us to convene easily with staff, multi-disciplinary team (MDT) colleagues, and clients across distances and from our homes and private offices. However, it can be challenging to translate in-person activities to a virtual environment and keep participants engaged. As a fully remote team, WRCAC has compiled lessons over the past year on hosting effective and engaging virtual meetings and trainings that we share here to assist you in successfully navigating and leveraging virtual space to best serve your CAC. Read More >>

Issue 3: Building Resiliency in Multidisciplinary Teams

There is no question that the work of responding to child abuse has a considerable impact on both professional and personal lives. Providers who work with children and families who have experienced trauma are increasingly recognizing the need to develop their own resiliency. Organizations are also leaning into their responsibility to establish practices and policies that support the resiliency of their employees. The National Children’s Alliance Standards for Accredited Children’s Advocacy Centers includes a requirement that Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) provide access to training and information on vicarious trauma and resiliency for multi-disciplinary team (MDT) members. While most child abuse professionals agree secondary traumatic stress is a critical issue impacting our workforce, many continue to note a need for more resources to combat its effect. Read More >>

Issue 2: Mental Health Services for Rural Communities

The Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC) supports children’s advocacy centers (CACs), multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) and state chapters that serve a decidedly rural and frontier population. The thirteen states that make up the western region represent nearly half of U.S. land, but less than one-quarter of U.S. residents. The result is a population density that is half the national average – 42.4 persons per square mile in the west versus 89.5 nationally. While the western region features urban centers such as Los Angeles, Honolulu and Seattle with population densities of over 5,000 residents per square mile, most of the states in the west fall well below the national average and comprise vast, sparsely populated areas. Read More >>

Issue 1: Welcome to the WRCAC Roundup

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the WRCAC Roundup! The WRCAC Roundup is a new monthly communication featuring the latest news from the Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC). Throughout each issue, we will highlight what we are learning and doing as it relates to child abuse intervention, professional development, and justice and healing for kids, and share relevant research, resources, and links to events from our team and our partners across the country. Each month, the WRCAC Roundup will be structured around one key topic or aspect of our work that is central to building strong multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs) and children’s advocacy centers (CACs). This month’s WRCAC Roundup is an introduction to who we are and how we operate within the broader CAC movement. Read More >>