Develop a SART
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Keep the Momentum

You may periodically struggle to keep up the momentum of team meetings, particularly when your team is at an impasse. To counter this challenge, plan for both long- and short-term goals, restructure how and when meetings are held, or form workgroups to address specific issues or projects.

Another challenge to keeping momentum often occurs when key members leave. It may be that no one replaces them or no one takes over their role and team efforts stall. Often, communities find themselves trying to rejuvenate their SART when this happens. To offset this challenge, create written policies, interagency agreements, or bylaws to institutionalize the involvement of the key agencies the team needs to keep it going. Having these documents may make it easier to secure replacement representatives during staff transitions.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's 2005 National Needs Assessment, most SARTs do not have paid coordinators or funds for administrative assistance.11 Offset this challenge by rotating administrative responsibilities (e.g., taking meeting minutes, facilitating team discussions) and creating action plans so that responsibilities do not fall on any one person or agency. Ultimately, however, having a designated SART coordinator can do much to ensure that meetings stay focused and productive.

Momentum can also be lost when SART members feel their system has been improved. If the team created protocols and guidelines, team members may be tempted to consider their real work done, yet the essential goal of establishing guidelines is to monitor and evaluate the sexual assault response over time. As team goals are reached, consider expanding your membership to include new sectors of the community that can add vitality and new direction to the group.

Some SART members may feel that team meetings are too long or that they take them away from their work. To keep the meeting to a reasonable length, consider holding separate meetings for case reviews or conduct different meetings to discuss forensic medical and legal issues. The best meeting format is one that respects the time constraints that participants face and meets all their needs.