- February 2009
- Vol. 10, No. 1
Interagency Collaboration Improves Child Welfare Services
A new issue brief describes the benefits of interagency collaboration in the context of a system of care approach designed to deliver better services for children and families. "Interagency Collaboration" is the third report in the series A Closer Look, which summarizes findings from nine grant communities funded through the Children's Bureau's Improving Child Welfare Outcomes Through Systems of Care initiative.
According to the issue brief, child welfare administrators have long recognized the need for a broad, coordinated effort by public and private agencies and organizations to strengthen and support families involved in the child welfare system. The first round of the Child and Family Services Reviews confirmed this need, pointing out service gaps and areas where interagency collaboration could support better outcomes for children and families.
Based on the experiences of the nine grantee communities engaged in the systems of care initiative, the issue brief identifies several essential elements of interagency collaboration:
- Governance structures that stress an overall vision, planning, practice, and accountability
- Management structures that promote collaboration within and between organizations
- Monitoring and evaluation processes that deliver regular feedback
- Open and regular communication
In addition, the brief cites the following challenges in developing effective interagency collaboration: limited funding resources, time constraints, and staff turnover. The report offers examples of effective strategies that communities use to face these challenges (for example, gathering all relevant partner agencies to create a common plan, reducing duplication and gaps in services). Examples from the grantees illustrate how these strategies have been put into action. These solutions have implications for administrators and stakeholders seeking to implement new policies that expand the collaborative relationships developed within their system of care.
The series is produced by the National Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center for Systems of Care. The complete issue brief is available to download for free on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
To read about one of the specific systems of care grantees, see "Family Organizations Promote Systems Change in Child Welfare" in this issue of CBX.