Sylvia’s CAC in Boone County is now fully accredited by the National Children’s Alliance. The CAC learned of their new status in November 2021.
The accreditation means the Center meets or exceeds ten standards established by more than seventy child abuse intervention professionals. To receive accreditation, Sylvia’s CAC team members worked together with consultant Toby Stark and Indiana Chapter Director Jan Lutz to document, update, refine, or implement minimum standards for equity and access, forensic interviews, victim support, medical and mental health access, documentation, and overall child safety. A full list of the standards is available from the NCA (PDF).
For many CACs, accreditation is a process of documenting and understanding many of the practices they are or always have been doing. Other times, however, big changes can result. For Sylvia’s CAC, the organization’s board, structure, and representation shifted—enabling greater capacity building opportunities in the future.
“The biggest change for us was our [county] Prosecutor was always appointed the President of our board,” says Sylvia’s CAC Executive Director Kassie Frazier. This setup dates to the organization’s founding under the authority of the Boone County Prosecutor’s Office before switching to an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. “Since that time, a lot of the bylaws, seats, and board appointments have led up to the prosecutor’s office.”
Now, the board president will be elected as well as the vice-president who assumes a role that is intended to transition to the presidency. The board is now responsible for recruiting new members, a task that previously fell to the Executive Director and can cause conflicts or issues with oversight. “As an executive director, it’s hard to tell your board what to do,” says Frazier with a chuckle.
“We also did a matrix where we were short and a lot of it was representation in diversity, age, race, and gender,” says Frazier. She notes Sylvia’s CAC is unique because victims of past abuse or trauma currently serve on the board. In addition, “Boone County is uniquely diversified between affluent suburban communities and rural farm communities. So we’re making sure everyone has representation on this board.”
Frazier credits much of the work to review, change, and document strengths and shortcomings to child advocacy veteran Toby Stark. Stark has experience training and running child advocacy centers across Indiana. “Her help was a lot to it. When you’re running an organization and frequently going to court, this stuff gets pushed back,” says Frazier. “But having her on it and sending revisions to everyone involved worked out well.”
The Indiana Chapter helped with the CAC’s accreditation, too, including working in tandem with Stark, ensuring standards were being met, reviewing documentation, and preparing for site review. Chapter Director Jan Lutz, who is also a site reviewer for the NCA but was not part of the NCA’s formal review team for Sylvia’s CAC said, “We all worked very well together. Everyone at Sylvia’s CAC deserves credit for their hard work and dedication to making Sylvia’s CAC focused on breadth and depth of service.”
To learn more about NCA Accreditation, visit the National Children’s Alliance.