"You bring powerful people to the table and they will push the system to change." - Don Crary (Walsh, 1999, p.5)
Serving children involved in the child welfare system calls for services and support from a variety of human service and community organizations, which is often a challenging aspect of child welfare casework. Interagency collaboration, a core principle in systems of care, focuses on bringing together and engaging critical stakeholders, such as juvenile justice, mental health, education, law enforcement, and Tribal authorities, in a coordinated and integrated effort to serve children whose needs cross multiple systems.
This issue of A Closer Look considers the challenges and strategies associated with building and sustaining interagency collaboration in a child welfare driven system of care. The report draws on current research in the field as well as the knowledge and experiences of nine grant communities currently in the fifth year of a 5-year demonstration grant.
Table of Contents
- Defining Interagency Collaboration
- Interagency Collaboration in a Child Welfare Driven System of Care
- Essential Elements of Interagency Collaboration
- Challenges and Strategies in Developing Effective Collaboration
- Implications for Administrators and Stakeholders
- Demonstration Sites and References
Improving Child Welfare Outcomes Through Systems of Care
In 2003, the Children's Bureau funded nine demonstration grants to test the efficacy of a system of care approach to improving outcomes for children and families involved in the child welfare system and to address policy, practice, and cross-system collaboration issues raised by the Child and Family Services Reviews. Specifically, this approach is designed to improve the capacity of human service agencies to strengthen and support families involved in public child welfare through a set of six guiding principles:
- Interagency collaboration;
- Individualized strengths-based care;
- Cultural and linguistic competence;
- Child, youth, and family involvement;
- Community-based services, and;
A Closer Look is a series of short reports that spotlight issues addressed by public child welfare agencies and their partners in implementing systems of care approaches to improve services and outcomes for the children and families they serve. These reports draw on the experiences of nine communities participating in the Children's Bureau's Improving Child Welfare Outcomes Through Systems of Care demonstration initiative, and summarize their challenges, promising practices, and lessons learned. The reports provide information communities nationwide can use in planning, implementing, and evaluating effective child welfare driven systems of care.
* The National Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center wishes to thank the following family leaders and agency practitioners for their contributions to the development of this resource: Lynn Usher, Susan Franklin, and Ed Cohen. back
This material may be freely reproduced and distributed. However, when doing so, please credit Child Welfare Information Gateway.