Idaho Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers (INCAC) is a National Children’s Alliance (NCA) accredited 501 (c) (3) nonprofit funded primarily by NCA grants. Pending budget approval, Sonja Howerton, chapter director, and Amy McCormack, program director, have been meeting recently to plan for next year’s grant giving and strategic initiatives implementation.
This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.
Having your own 501(c) (3), how does that translate to the rest of the state?
Howerton: INCAC is the accredited state chapter of the National Children’s Alliance. Each state has a state chapter that then works in collaboration with other state chapters throughout the nation with bi-monthly networking, calls and partnership with other (child abuse-centered) centers for best practices, trends and improvements with child abuse victim supports.
2021 was the first year for INCAC as its own 501 (c) (3) not under an umbrella organization. Next year it will be a big goal for us to really do some strong strategic planning and re-establish our mission and vision statements. Ultimately, it will always be one of our strongest goals is to support our children’s advocacy centers and the work that they’re doing, to make sure that there is the support and services and justice for the victims, but also to make sure that within the community we are representing a strong vision of support for child abuse victims in Idaho.
Do you have some new partnerships developing?
Howerton: We have worked with Optum Idaho for the last two years, and we’re so excited for the partnership. It’s been great to lean into some great synergies between our organizations and shared visions of better services to Idaho children and families.
What are those synergies, particularly with the business community?
Howerton: We love what we do and are excited to partner with so many organizations dedicated to bettering services for children. We are looking forward to stronger business partnership strategies for next year and hope to get out more in our community to make stronger connections.
Is there opportunity with institutions of higher education?
Howerton: We’ve had an intern with Boise State University’s (BSU) Bronco Corps. I think there are great opportunities with other universities since we work in a field with a strong element of social work and counseling that complements the work experience for the degrees many are seeking.
This last fall, in partnership with our BSU intern, we started a survivor support group for adult survivors of child abuse. We are focusing on providing support within the community for those adults who have survived childhood abuse. There’s this element of trauma that remains with survivors and translates into many relationships and even within their relationships with their employers.
McCormack: The other thing that we do with BSU is statistical reporting, and then they work with Idaho Department of Health and Welfare victim compensation.
Is there anything else statewide?
Howerton: We’re going to go virtual with our support group for the next couple of months and potentially leave it virtual because it does allow us to be statewide. It gives everybody the comfort of being within their own home, to have an environment where they feel safe, secure.
McCormack: And then our organization, and our state chapter partners, offer a statewide conference each year; next year, we’re looking at in person and virtual.
Howerton: We’re really trying to have the in-person component be in multiple sites and tethering of sites together through technology.
If members of our business community are called to help, how can they best do that?
McCormack: We did have a wonderful relationship with the Human Bean; they gave us funding for a banner and for food for the Shine for Survivors Day that we hosted this year. So if we could get more businesses involved in maybe sponsoring different events, I think that’d be awesome.
Would you say it would be possible to broaden business partnerships with places like law firms, day cares and others directly relevant?
Howerton: Yes. There are great opportunities with schools, and childcare centers to collaborate on knowing the signs of child abuse.
When it comes to the multidisciplinary team, the businesses and professions most impacted are law enforcement, legal prosecutors, legal counsel, hospitals, medical providers and mental health providers.
Are there any other nonprofit partnerships you would like to make sure are highlighted?
McCormack: We have a wonderful relationship with Faces of Hope, because they offer our office space for free. We had a wonderful grant come in from Blue Cross of Idaho and have been an award recipient of 100 Women for Good, and most recently 100 Men for Good.
Howerton: Some of our other largest supporters have been Optum Idaho, Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation, and then the governor’s task force for children at risk (CARTF). We’ve also have seven child advocacy center members who are great supporters.
Do you have leadership training opportunities for anyone in the business community who might want to have some board involvement, for example?
Howerton: We don’t currently; we’re working to develop opportunities. We have been working to diversify our board. We’ve got a great partner with Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, and we’ve added a prosecutor from Bonner County, but we definitely have talked about diversifying that to have more of a representation of business members on our board. We just are working to get there, trying to do that as fast as we possibly can but with intent.
We’re super excited and optimistic about the future as we work to build a strong strategic plan for next year and all the great opportunities for the network moving forward.