Rape Incest and Abuse National Network (RAINN) represents a new type of delivery system for human services: the provision of supportive services over the internet. Internet-based hotlines are emerging as a new form of service delivery for victims of sexual assault. The RAINN online hotline (ROH) began offering services in 2006. Since beginning operation, ROH has had about 2000 users per month. Can the ROH provide competent, ethical and accountable service delivery?
Written by Jerry Finn, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington, Tacoma
RAINN was an early adopter of virtual service provision, utilizing online platforms to provide confidential and accessible crisis intervention and other services to survivors of sexual violence, more than 15 years before the COVID-19 pandemic and client demand catalyzed similar innovations in other social service organizations. This case examines RAINN’s service delivery model (especially the online hotline and app), demonstrated outcomes, and organizational attributes (finances, leadership chart), to consider the future of social services, apply research skills to critically assess the evidence base for RAINN’s approach, and situate social work practice within an organizational context.
In addition to background information about RAINN and the service model used, the case includes supplemental materials from RAINN’s operations and evaluation. Instructors are encouraged to use the case in its entirety or to pull the evaluation plan, data, and research instruments to provide a concrete, real-life, example for a research course. The New Directions in Social Work series authors and editor appreciate the considerable contributions of Dr. Jerry Finn, Professor Emeritus, to this case.
Become acquainted with the purpose, development, and structure of the organization’s application of technology to the delivery of crisis intervention and ongoing mental health services to survivors of sexual violence.
Understand the data sources and methods of evaluation the agency employs to examine its services and inform future innovations.
Develop your critical thinking and evaluation skills by working with RAINN evaluation data to assess the effectiveness of the program, consider potential modifications, and examine how RAINN can evolve to leverage new technologies and meet shifting demands.