More than a Network
Collaboration is the process we use to do more than network; it is the process we use to help agencies act interdependently to address complex problems.
- True collaboration helps organizations build on the new tradition of becoming part of a community service system.
- An important principle of collaborating is recognizing that it is the responsibility of an organization to know how it can best be interdependent to serve people.
- For years, agencies have expected individual professionals to serve as their primary referral source. Agencies behaved as if they were not part of a big system. Your AFL program is partly aimed at helping organizations find out how to best work as part of the system. Training individuals is not enough. Whole agencies must be interdependent. Determine what resources your agency may be able to share or leverage with other agencies. It could be information, technical expertise, or the same interests in legislative processes.
- Unified case management, wrap-around services, service integration are all models for helping each agency tie to other agencies to resolve complex problems – like caring for pregnant and parenting teens and preventing teen pregnancy.
The following is an example of effective collaboration:
Example: The Circle of Care Project is a collaboration between a community based youth development agency and a community health organization. It is the result of ROCA and Massachusetts General Hospital coming together to help pregnant and parenting adolescents, their partners, and families in Revere and Chelsea, Massachusetts. The focus of this project is to link pregnant and parenting adolescents to services for optimal growth and health of both parents and children, reduce repeat pregnancies, and reduce child abuse and neglect. A few of their services include:
- home visitation
- groups for teen moms and fathers and their babies
- special events for the teen parents, their babies, and their families
- medical care offered at multiple sites, some specifically designed for teens
- mental health services include screening, treatment, and referral
- communication circles
As a result of this collaboration, effective policies and systems around access to birth control for adolescent mothers have been created.1
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