WRCAC Roundup

The WRCAC Roundup is a 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.

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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.

All WRCAC Roundup issues will be archived on this page for easy viewing.​ Issues are organized by topic area.
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Multidisciplinary Teams

Issue 31: Minimizing the Impact of Change

In September of 2022, Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC) released a Roundup that focused on how to manage change and transition on the multidisciplinary team (MDT). As so many Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) and MDTs continue to experience elevated levels of turnover, this topic remains relevant for CACs and our partner agencies nationwide. In fact, turnover and changes within the team is one of the main reasons many CACs reach out to us for support. Although we may not be able to control turnover on our teams or within our partner organizations, there are key factors to consider when navigating change and understanding our responses to it. Read More >>

Issue 29: Optimizing Well-Being and Boosting Productivity for CAC and MDT Professionals: The Positive Impact of Focusing on Single Tasks

Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC) is committed to helping Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) staff and multidisciplinary team (MDT) members find ways to strengthen their resiliency and focus on their vision and goals. However, as we all know, it is sometimes hard to stay focused on just one goal or task at a time. This Roundup issue looks at how multitasking may impact us in the field and provides some tips for creating space to focus and reduce the sense of overwhelm that can lead to burnout. Read More >>

Issue 28: Engaging Military Partners in the Multidisciplinary Response to Child Abuse

An array of resources is available to support children’s advocacy centers (CACs) efforts to include military partners in the multidisciplinary team response and ensure that services are coordinated with military systems. Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC) supports MDTs and CACs across the western region through training and technical support and encourages CACs and MDTs to consider their military partners when developing services in their communities. Read More >>

Issue 24: Onboarding: A Key Tool in Multidisciplinary Team Success and Engagement

Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC) is committed to strengthening multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) and children’s advocacy centers (CACs) in our region and across the country with our collaborative partners. As part of our work, we are helping CACs in our region understand some of the recent updates to the National Children’s Alliance’s (NCA’s) accreditation standards that went into effect in January of 2023. There are several updates and additions across the ten standards. However, it is important to note that the updated standards reflect an increased focus on the role of the MDT facilitator and the MDT overall. One of the newest additions to the standards relates to the onboarding of new MDT members. Essential Component J under Standard 1 states: “The CAC/MDT provides formal orientation for new MDT members regarding CAC/MDT process, policies and procedures, and code of conduct” (NCA, 2023). Read More >>

Issue 22: Moving from Virtual to Hybrid Meetings

As we all know, the world shifted in 2020, and many of us went from being in the office full-time to working remotely and participating in virtual meetings and trainings. In fact, in 2021, Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC) dedicated a Roundup to understanding how to best approach virtual meetings. However, now, many of us are finding ourselves settling somewhere between being fully virtual and fully in-person. For many of us, multidisciplinary team (MDT), case review, and staff meetings have become hybrid meetings. Hybrid meetings involve some attendees participating in-person and others remotely through a web-based platform such as Zoom.  Read More >>

Issue 21: Children’s Advocacy Centers’ Multidisciplinary Teams: Early Adopters of Boundary Spanning

Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC) is committed to strengthening multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) and children’s advocacy centers (CACs) in our region and through our work with our collaborative partners across the country. We provide technical assistance, customized training, and resources to help teams effectively respond to child abuse in their communities. We also work with our regional partners to host quarterly peer forums for MDT facilitators to learn and connect with their peers. Information about these and other learning opportunities is provided at the end of this article. In our most recent peer forum, we covered the topic of boundary spanning. Understanding boundary spanning is a key step to strengthening MDTs and the collaborative approach to child abuse investigations. 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 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 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 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 >>

Mental Health & Telemental Health

Issue 25: Telemental Health Implementation: Highlights of the Latest Research (Part 2)

This issue of the Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC) Roundup highlights recently published articles on telemental health (TMH) of interest to child advocacy centers (CACs). It is the second part of our research series (see part one here). While the previous Roundup focused on the general effectiveness of TMH, this Roundup highlights research related to the application of TMH to certain populations or interventions.  We encourage you to read the articles in full and share them with your CAC staff and partners. Read More >>

Issue 20: Telemental Health Implementation - Highlights of the Latest Research

The rapid implementation of telemental health (TMH) services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic produced opportunities and challenges for maintaining mental health services while in-person sessions were suspended. While TMH services were not new, especially for children’s advocacy centers (CACs) and clinicians serving rural and frontier clients, they were often looked at as a less desirable alternative to in-person sessions. This misperception is changing, and TMH delivery is growing as a respected modality in its own right. 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 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 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 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 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 >>

Capacity Building

Issues 26 and 27: Meeting NCA's 2023 National Standards of Accreditation: Tips for CACs

Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC) works throughout the west to provide training and technical assistance which strengthens a trauma-informed, coordinated community response and promotes the National Standards of Accreditation for Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs). In 2023, the National Children’s Alliance’s (NCA’s) revised accreditation standards went into effect. The standards, which were first put into place over twenty years ago and have been updated approximately every five years, help guide the work of CACs nationwide. The ten standards help ensure that children who experience abuse have high-quality, evidence-based services available to them when they enter the doors of the over 750 accredited CACs in the country to begin the healing process. Read Issue 26 (Standards 1-5) >

Before we dive into the second half of the standards, we wanted to share some information from the National Children’s Alliance based on the first group of CACs to apply for accreditation or reaccreditation under the new standards. During the first part of the year, nearly 73% of the CACs that applied for accreditation/reaccreditation were successful and 27% of the CACs that applied for accreditation/reaccreditation went into the pending status. Although the 27% number may seem high, the first part of the year did not see that many CACs go through the process. For those that went into pending status, the standard that proved to be the most challenging was the MDT standard with issues cited regarding protocols and how teams give feedback and how that feedback is formally reviewed. The second most common reason CACs went into pending status was the victim advocacy standard. Most cited here were issues with victim advocates not having the full range of training required and the ongoing training requirement. Read Issue 27 (Standards 6-10) >>

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 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 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 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 >>

Diversity, Equity, & Access

Issue 32: Engaging in Anti-Racist Action: A Trauma-Informed Imperative for Children's Advocacy Centers

The Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center provides training and technical assistance to State Chapters, Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs), and multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) to build their capacity to provide an effective, trauma-informed response to child abuse. A key element of this capacity building is developing cultural responsiveness. The Diversity, Equity, and Access standard in the 2023 National Standards of Accreditation for Children’s Advocacy Centers emphasizes that cultural responsiveness is “as central to operations as developmentally appropriate, child-focused, and trauma-informed practice.” To increase cultural responsiveness, the standard requires CACs to develop policies, procedures, and practices to reduce disparities in service access and outcomes, and to ensure values of equity and inclusion are evident in practice. Read More >>

Issue 30: Resources for Supporting Families of Color

Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (WRCAC) is committed to strengthening the response of Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) and State Chapters throughout the western region of the United States. CACs and Chapters in our region and across the country are working every day to break down barriers to services for children and families and implement a trauma-informed response by multidisciplinary team (MDT) members. Read More >>

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 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 >>

Trauma-Informed Organizational Practices & Resiliency

Issue 23: Trauma-Informed Approaches Within the Multidisciplinary Response to Child Abuse

The research is clear that child and family-serving organizations such as children’s advocacy centers have an obligation to their staff to implement practices that support the workforce response to secondary traumatic stress (STS) (The Center for Child Welfare Trauma-Informed Policies, Programs, and Practices and O’Malley-Laursen, 2021). Leadership involvement in assessing the strengths and needs of their organization and deploying resources to mitigate the impact of STS is imperative. However, it is also important that children’s advocacy centers commit to implementing practices not only with children’s advocacy center (CAC) staff but with their multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) as well. Individual members of MDTs are often impacted by STS and can benefit from reflective practices as support for a trauma-informed team. 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 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 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 >>