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Establishing a Blueprint for a Comprehensive, Statewide Response to Sexual Violence

MO-SART is a statewide team representing an interconnected network of providers and stakeholders who, until 2016, had not met together before—a reality that reveals the extent of the work to be done in Missouri. For almost two years, MCADSV has facilitated this collaborative, statewide project with a focus on developing a comprehensive system of responses and ongoing care for sexual assault survivors in every Missouri community. The meetings began after inquiries to the question, “Does Missouri have a backlog of rape kits?”

In order to have a comprehensive and consistent statewide response, a variety of stakeholders are involved in the planning. Victim advocates, medical-based staff collecting forensic evidence, law enforcement, prosecutors, hospitals, and crime labs, along with officials from state offices and elected officials are at the table. Team members have been working to identify gaps in the full range of services and systemic responses to sexual assault. That first step is the foundation for creating a strategic plan to build collaborative, trauma-informed best practices that move Missouri forward to better serve sexual assault survivors and those to whom they turn for help at every level of community response.

An audit of untested kits has been an identified need from the team. The audit should reveal not only the number of untested kits, but also the reasons for not testing. An audit may also provide critical information such as barriers for storage or inconsistent practices across the state. 

Using other states as models, MCADSV is exploring a range of solutions to build a better infrastructure for survivors, including a tracking system for sexual assault kits in Missouri. Often, survivors can feel frustrated by not knowing what happens to a kit after an exam, and who they can contact when, and if, an investigation progresses.
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