March 2000Vol. 1, No. 1Communities Have the Power to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect
The Value of Partnerships
All community organizations have a part to play in ensuring the safety and well-being of children. Well-implemented partnerships benefit communities by building strong relationships among agencies and organizations, enhancing service delivery, reducing fragmentation and duplication, and providing a safer environment for children and their families. Many public and private entities across the nation already work together on behalf of child abuse and neglect prevention efforts.
Deciding to Form a Partnership
Successful partnerships, like any worthwhile endeavor, take time, energy, and planning. A healthy partnership involves give and take. Before you approach potential partners, think carefully about what you bring to the collaboration and what you hope to achieve. Consider the following questions:
- Is your organization meeting its goals regarding child abuse prevention?
- Could a collaborative effort enhance or expand your prevention activities?
- Do other organizations in your community provide similar services or target similar audiences?
- Could another organization help your group gain access to community leaders, target audiences, funding sources, or other resources?
- Are your organization's environment, leadership, and staff open to sharing information and resources with potential partners?
Good partners respect each other's differences while pursuing common goals. Being flexible and staying open to feedback and criticism are as essential to building a partnership as providing leadership and direction.
Searching for Partners
Once your organization decides to pursue a partnership, begin the search by surveying your staff, volunteers, and leadership for promising contacts. Canvass your local area and expand statewide if necessary. Aim to align with organizations that can help expand your services or provide access, space, advertising, or even a new focus. Potential prevention partners may include:
- Education associations
- Health agencies
- Parenting organizations
- Social services agencies
- Law enforcement agencies
- Local government groups.
Try thinking "outside the box" to include non-traditional partners such as:
- Arts and humanities organizations
- Faith communities.
Once place to get started on your search is the website of the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information (http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov), which provides information about, and links to, child-focused organizations.
Building a Partnership
Once you establish relationships with potential partners, you need to develop a strategic plan. The strategic plan defines the partnership's future and develops the necessary procedures and operations. Essential plan elements include:
- Analysis of environmental factors
- Mission statement
- Organizational assessment
- Measures of success or failure
- Action plan
- Implementation plan.
Building partnerships for the prevention of child abuse and neglect is hard work. Remember that even the smallest of successes is important when launching a new initiative.