Guiding Principles of Systems of Care: Interagency Collaboration
What does interagency collaboration mean?
Interagency collaboration engages all child- and family-serving agencies from the public, private, and faith-based sectors. Examples include child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health, education, substance abuse, health, and (if separate) the agency responsible for serving Native American families. These agencies work together to address the complex needs of children and families in a spirit of community partnership. In a system of care, interagency collaboration is reflected at both the governance and direct practice level. Formal interagency governance teams can:
- Provide financial support to fill service gaps
- Develop interagency training agendas
- Develop funding strategies
- Make joint agency budget recommendations
- Create interagency management information systems
- Provide gatekeeping functions to reduce or end out-of-community placements
- Develop communication plans and program development strategies
Why is interagency collaboration important?
- Interagency collaboration creates a sense of community ownership for supporting children and families and addressing their needs and strengths.
- Children and families come to the child welfare system with multiple needs requiring the assistance of multiple agencies. Often, when multiple services are required, the effectiveness of any one service is related to the availability and effectiveness of the other services needed by the family.
- Interagency collaboration reduces duplication of services and allows for greater efficiency in use of public resources.
- Collaboration creates a fuller understanding among community partners of the policies and statutes that drive funding and practice issues, while maximizing funding and programmatic resources available to children and families.
- Interagency collaboration allows for the creation of data systems that can track children and families across agencies and provides for a unified voice to legislators on the unmet needs of children.
Questions to ask about systems of care and interagency collaboration:
- Are all child-serving agencies involved in the system of care?
- Are there interagency agreements, memorandums of understanding, or statutes that forge the interagency collaboration?
- Are families a part of all interagency collaboration efforts?
- Are processes in place that allow for the State/county/city/tribal interagency teams to have a governance role within the system of care?
- Is each interagency partner contributing funds to the system?
- Are all general fund dollars being maximized by matching them up with Federal funds (e.g., Medicaid)?
National Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center for Systems of Care (2008)
Considers the challenges and strategies associated with building and sustaining interagency collaboration in a child welfare driven system of care.
Service Array Materials and Tools
National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement
Offers a process and a set of tools child welfare agencies can use, in conjunction with community collaboratives, to assess and enhance their service array.