Pre-planning is the internal phase of the strategic planning process. Essential staff positions should be identified that will support the work of the steering committee and implementation of many of the information gathering methods you will use to inform the strategic plan. Pre-planning also focuses on the key groups and individuals that should be involved, what already exists in the strategic planning area, and building legitimacy for the strategic planning effort you will launch soon. The pre-planning phase can last six to twelve months.
Activities, Questions to Consider
- Determining the entity charged with leading the strategic planning.
- Is there an existing group with similar vision or goals that can serve this purpose, or will a new strategic planning group need to be formed?
- Embracing a “planning to implement” strategy. Reinforce the notion that you are conducting planning to make change happen. People will want to see results from the planning they commit to do.
- Identifying the population of focus of the system of care or other systems change efforts.
- Identifying key partners for the strategic planning effort.
- If an existing group is relied upon, who needs to be added to fulfill the purpose of the systems of care work?
- Do you have a sufficient number of parents and youth involved?
- Have existing child welfare boards, advisory groups, or advocacy groups been considered for involvement?
- How does the work of these existing groups relate to planning for systems of care?
- How will these groups be kept informed of progress toward goals and objectives?
- Are representatives of the judicial system, attorneys, and law enforcement represented in the strategic planning? How will they be kept informed of the potential impact of what?
- Identifying ways to address the question, "What's in it for me?" from a stakeholder's perspective.
- Explain any financial incentives that will be available to key stakeholders.
- Give details on how the coordination of trainings and services will help stakeholders.
- Make clear how eliminating duplication of services will benefit stakeholders.
- Describe how involving families and focusing on strengths will benefit stakeholder organizations.
- Ensuring agency administrators, judges, and other key decision-makers are aware of the strategic planning effort and its potential impact on their system and the community as a whole. Make sure they are supportive of, and committed to, the endeavor and have opportunities to participate.
- Is other planning being conducted by the State or local child welfare agency (e.g. Statewide Assessment, Child and Family Services Plan, Program Improvement Plan, etc.)?
- How does this work relate to broader efforts?
- Does the strategic planning require authorization or approval from any agency boards of directors, State commissioners, advisory groups, city council, tribal leaders, county boards, or school boards? If so, what is the strategy for securing a place on their agendas? Who will present the information?
- What is the process for approval?
- How will these groups gain information about progress in implementing the strategic plan and building your system of care?
- Seeking out tested tools, methodologies, and experts on strategic planning.
- Has a Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) analysis been conducted? (Tools for SWOT analyses are available on-line, if needed.)
- Has a needs assessment been conducted?
- Are various methods for collecting information from key stakeholder groups being planned (focus groups, interviews, surveys, public forums)?
- Are you planning to map out resources: fiscal, personnel, and services?
- Have the policies, funding mechanisms, mandates, and procedures of key interagency partners been assessed?
- Identifying fiscal, key partners, and consultant resources to support the strategic planning.
- Ensuring strategic planning group members are representative of the target population.
- Ensuring the strategic planning addresses findings of the State Child and Family Services Reviews and the Program Improvement Plan, as well as any other monitoring reviews the State has undergone.
- Project director/system of care coordinator
- Evaluator (staff position or consultant)
- Administrative assistant
- Planner (staff position or consultant)
- Representatives of families and the community, such as a family member hired as a coordinator
- If you are thinking of creating policy or legislation related to your system of care, be sure to embed the strategic planning process into that legislation. For example, you may want the legislation to specify that every other year an updated plan on progress made, current needs, and future direction must be presented to the governor and legislature. This will ensure the various departments continue strategic planning beyond the lifespan of any private foundation or Federal grant funds.
- Consider linking your system of care strategic planning to other existing and ongoing strategic planning work.
New York City CRADLE – Project Action Plan (PDF - 329 KB)
The action plan of the Bedford-Stuyvesant community in New York City is a comprehensive overview of the strategic planning process, including the identified critical need, approach for system change, and areas of focus and activities. The action plan also identifies areas of impact, plans for the future, strategic goals, and an implementation roadmap.
Pennsylvania System of Care – Implementation Tool: Pre-planning Section (PDF - 47 KB)
This seven-page guide for implementing your system of care strategic plan identifies three main phases of the work (pre-planning, theory of change, and implementation) and the stages of system of care development, including both benchmarks and strategies.
Flaspohler, P., Ledgerwood, A., & Bowers, A. (2007). Putting It All Together: Building Capacity for Strategic Planning. In P. Motes & P. Hess (Eds.), Collaborating with Community-based Organizations Through Consultation and Technical Assistance. New York: Columbia University Press.
This 18-page article explains that all aspects of strategic planning, its benefits, potential barriers and challenges, and expected outcomes.
Systems of Care: A Guide for Planning
This 38-page booklet includes appendices that serve as a comprehensive guide for strategic planning, specifically for child welfare driven systems of care. The guide includes sections on identifying the target population; assessing needs and strengths; building a collaborative governance structure; identifying vision, mission, goals, objectives, actions, and outcomes; identifying and planning future activities; structuring an evaluation; and creating a strategic plan.
Strategic Planning for Child Welfare Agencies
This 83-page manual includes attachments that answer the what, why, and how of strategic planning. Key features are tips on how to communicate, implement, and revise your strategic plan.
Building Systems of Care: A Primer
This PowerPoint presentation proceeds through various stages of systems of care development: system building definitions; values and principles; process and structure; cross cutting/non-negotiable characteristics; planning/governance and system management; outreach and engagement; service array and financing; provider network and natural supports; case management, utilization, and quality.