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The Inception of the Founding Board

An informal network of representatives from multidisciplinary child abuse investigation teams throughout the state had been meeting regularly over the last decade. This group shared programmatic information and has sponsored statewide trainings in collaboration with the Department of Social Services. In 1996, the National Children's Alliance (NCA), which is the national organization of Children's Advocacy Centers, recognized Massachusetts as an established Chapter. After conducting an extensive needs assessment of programs throughout the state in 2001, members of the Chapter recognized the need to formalize our organizational structure to better meet the needs of the multidisciplinary team programs throughout the Commonwealth. The Founding Board, with leaders from various disciplines and agencies throughout the state, guided this organizational development and strategic planning process. Without their work, MACA would not be in the exciting position it is in now.

We are fortunate to have many of the Founding Board members as current officers including Lucia Zuniga and Janet Fine. We'd like to thank those members of the Founding Board whose early contributions launched MACA into a recognized chapter of NCA and they include Dr. Edward Bailey, Susan Goldfarb, Senator Cheryl Jacques, Kim McNamara, Captain Jim Thomas, Dr. Andrea Vandeven, Dr. Christine Barron, Sally Fogerty, Chuck McDonald, Gail Berry, Linda Pisano, Susan Pederzoli and Representative Cory Atkins.

The Early Stages of MACA

The Massachusetts State Chapter of the National Children's Alliance (NCA) has been gaining momentum since 1995, when representatives from all of the SAIN Teams and Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) programs in Massachusetts began meeting in an effort to improve the response to child abuse statewide. Through an informal network, representatives began to exchange ideas, collaborate on training efforts, and support each other in the development and maintenance of multidisciplinary investigation teams.

In 1997, Massachusetts received State Chapter status with the National Children's Alliance (NCA), the national organization of CACs and multidisciplinary child abuse investigation teams. It is a testament to our commitment to children in the Commonwealth that Massachusetts was the first chapter established in the Northeast Region, and among the first nationwide.

Since its inception, the Chapter has made important efforts toward addressing the needs of its member programs. Shortly after receiving official chapter status from the NCA, the Massachusetts Chapter, in collaboration with DSS, sponsored a full-day, comprehensive multidisciplinary training with participation from each county's DSS offices, District Attorney's offices, police, mental health agencies, and medical facilities.

Then, in June 1999, approximately 35 representatives from CACs, SAIN teams, and other allied programs, convened for a two-day retreat to create a vision and a preliminary action plan for a formal statewide organization. Among the participants was Senator Cheryl Jacques, who offered very valuable legislative and organizational expertise and guidance. At the close of this retreat, the Chapter participants agreed to proactively mobilize to advance its mission by developing a more formal organizational structure similar to those of highly successful chapters in other states.

The first step was to elect Janet Fine and Jennifer Stokes, the Directors of the Suffolk County and Berkshire County CACs respectively at that time, as Co-Chairs of the State Chapter. This shared leadership structure was chosen to effectively model a collaborative approach, and to reflect the geographic and programmatic diversity within the state membership. Four committees were formed at that time to reflect the goals of the Chapter -- Organizational Development, Legislation, Training, and Personnel.

The Children's Justice Act (CJA) awarded the Chapter a one-year grant for a part-time Administrative Coordinator in January of 2001. With oversight and supervision of the Chapter Co-Chairs, the Administrative Coordinator, Kara Johnson was hired for one year to assist the Chapter in conducting a comprehensive needs assessment to identify strengths and needs of existing and developing programs throughout the state. Her invaluable skills guided the next few years and brought the needed structure and organization to the group. We are fortunate to have her continued involvement.

The needs assessment elucidated the need for the Chapter to formalize its organizational structure to better meet the programs' needs and to better serve the children and families of the Commonwealth. The Founding Board, comprised of leaders from various disciplines, agencies, and institutions across the state, made the commitment to create the foundation for the Chapter and to guide the organizational development and strategic planning process.

History of MACA
Board of Directors