I think it's good for the programs to come together. We have more strength in numbers and have a bigger impact on the legislature or in other policy arenas when we work in concert. The sexual assault directors also learn from one another and get support from one another. The strength in numbers makes a tremendous difference. It's important that decision makers hear about needs of survivors all across the State, not just from Washington County. MCASA does a tremendous job giving us one voice and bringing voice of our programs and the survivors we serve to the General Assembly, the Governor's Office of Crime Control & Prevention, and the US Congress. MCASA also provides us with information about when it's important to contact policymakers. We depend on MCASA to provide this leadership and are proud to be a member.
Have you had any recent events or actions you'd like to tell us about?
One of our strengths in Washington County is having partnerships with governmental agencies. Together we focus on making sure victims are treated with respect and are not re-victimized by the process. CASA works with a wide range of partners. We work with the Courts to help make sure victims have access to justice, and CASA has an attorney on staff to help with this. The Washington County Social Services agency helps in so many ways; for instance, their child protective services workers coordinate with CASA when a child and protecting parent need to go to shelter after a child sexual abuse disclosure. We are also very pleased to be working with the schools; they help which help our counselors meet with children and get the services they deserve. These agencies even help with fundraising to support our services.
CASA works hard to provide the public with information about how recognize and prevent sexual assault. Our staff does education with civic groups, outreach at fairs, and training for professionals. We also provide educational materials to parents who want to help prepare their children. More and more we hear from parents who want help talking with children before they go off to college. CASA also provide workshops for young women and men who want to learn more about prevention and what they can do.
If your program received $100,000 in new funds today, what would you do with it?
It would depend if it was ongoing money. It would be great to hire more staff to provide more services to survivors. It would be wonderful to eliminate all waiting lists and make it so survivors never have to wait. It's not easy for survivors to come forward, and the more we can do for them right away, the better. But it does depend on whether the funds were ongoing - funders need to understand that one-time donations, are great, but consistent structural improvements are really what is needed.