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The Role of First Responders in Child Maltreatment Cases: Disaster and Nondisaster Situations
Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, Children's Bureau. Cage, Richard., Salus, Marsha K.|
|Year Published: 2010|
Memorandum of Understanding1
What is a memorandum of understanding?
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is a written agreement that clarifies the relationships and the responsibilities between two or more organizations that share services, clients, and resources.
Why is it important to have an MOU?
MOUs help strengthen partnerships by delineating roles of individuals, agencies, and other groups.
What is actually included in an MOU?
MOUs can address a variety of issues and topics. Content areas to consider including in an MOU are:
- Purpose statement
- Clarification of agency roles
- Referrals across agencies
- Assessment protocols
- Parameters of confidentiality
- Case management intervention
- Interagency training of staff
- Agency liaison/coordination
- Process for resolving interagency conflicts
- Periodic reviews of the MOU.
How do we know our agency is ready to develop an MOU?
Agencies that work together (or should work together) to reduce child maltreatment are excellent candidates for creating an MOU. In agencies that are experiencing strained relationships between potential partners, the process of writing an MOU provides a unique opportunity to address misperceptions and differences and to work jointly to resolve gaps in service delivery.
What strategies should we undertake as we begin the MOU development process?
Depending on existing relationships between agencies, one strategy may include inviting key supporters to meetings to explore the feasibility of MOU development. An additional strategy may include inviting an outside consultant to facilitate a mutual partnership that leads to the development of an MOU.
What are the potential problems that arise during the MOU development process?
Problems may arise concerning misperceptions about each other's goals, missions, and philosophies. Professionals from child welfare agencies often report that the MOU meetings helped them understand the other organizations' language and history and provided a context to consider other philosophies and missions. Additional problems may include differing confidentiality policies, assessment decisions, and levels of intervention.
1Bragg, H. L. (2003). Child protection in families experiencing domestic violence [On-line]. Available: http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/domesticviolence/.
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