Christa M. Collier serves as the Director of Training, Education, and Special Initiatives at MACA. As the former Executive Director of Northern Berkshire United Way, Collier sees her new role as a chance to give back.
“I wanted to go back to the CAC world and support the team members,” Collier said. “I remember the time as a director of a CAC and I just thought I really could use some support. My goal is to help provide the resources that the professionals need when they are in the field and to effectively do their work..”
One of the key programs Christa oversees is Recognizing and Responding to Child Abuse, which is about educating the community on what child abuse is.
“People are always stunned by the child abuse rates. Yes, this is happening in your community. It’s hard to convey that information to people without having them turn green. Trafficking also happens in Massachusetts, and not just in Boston. It happens elsewhere in the state.”
Collier added, “If you know someone who is being abused, what do you do? Where do you go? I don’t think the community really knows that CACs exist. They might’ve heard of ‘The Kids’ Place,’ but they don’t really know what’s involved in it. It’s a place where a child can have an interview with all the members of the multidisciplinary team.”
Collier works to support new education and outreach staff to know what to do when visiting childcare centers, schools, and other fieldwork. The curriculum consists of ten sections, which can be tailored based on the location and audience.
“If a school is looking for something specific to cover, that can be accomplished. All ten sections do not have to be implemented for the curriculum to be effective,” Collier said. She and a curriculum committee also regularly update the content to ensure its relevance.
Another program Collier manages is the Problem Sexual Behavior Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (PSB-CBT) initiative. This initiative helps children who have initiated a PSB against another child.
“We’re changing the culture about the way we’re talking about it,” Collier said. “These are children, not sex offenders.”
The program is for children under 14 and requires year-long training, which involves conference calls, in-person trainings, and working with the University of Oklahoma, where the training was developed. Today, six of Massachusetts’ 12 CACs are trained in this learning collaborative and have clinical teams committed to running the program.
“This has been such a journey because of the initial mindset that children with PSBs were sex offenders and could not be seen at CACs,” Collier said, “Opinions have changed.”
With proper treatment, the PSB-CBT is 97% effective. In other words, 97% of the children in this program do not re-offend.
“We are also trying to build a strong telehealth model across the state,” Collier said. “For PSB, it’s a good way to conduct treatment. Telehealth is particularly important when people are in remote areas or do not have access to transportation.”
Collier also oversaw MACA’s 13th annual statewide conference, which occurred in May.
“MACA is really a special place. Where I am at this point in my career, I’ve learned so much from others. Now I have the opportunity to provide resources and trainings to others in the field who are doing really hard work. It’s a privilege to do this type of work because you know what it’s like on the other side,” Collier said. “When you’ve been on the other side, I think it makes all the difference. It’s that recognition that I’ve been in your shoes, , and I honor that. When I do my work, I’m doing it for them.”