Read more about the lessons the Partnership has learned.
The Partnership had to develop and validate new screening tools and assessments because available assessments were not sufficiently interdisciplinary to permit a comprehensive understanding of the etiology of problems and to facilitate multi-systemic service planning. The Partnership also had to develop a range of databases that are essential for monitoring for fidelity, workplace efficiency, and timely reporting.
Staff turnover at the agency director level can undermine collaborations, particularly when the individual leaving has a personality that drives the interagency process forward; when he or she leaves, there can be some drift in focus and energy. The Partnership model is sufficiently stable that the collaboration does, given some time, tend to self-adjust when one of its key partners turns over.
The Partnership Board is comprised exclusively of leaders of government agencies. From the outset, some community-based organizations (CBOs) were concerned that this new structure would disrupt their funding and their ability to communicate easily with government agencies that were essential to their ongoing activities. Over time, many of those concerns have been allayed through the activities of a consortium of community stakeholders that regularly meets to provide advice to the Board. In addition, the Partnership has, from the outset, provided systematic support to CBOs, assisting them in identifying evidence-based programs and in implementing them.
Replacing longstanding programs with evidence-based versions can generate conflict in the form of staff non-compliance or hostility to change. The Partnership, with a staff that works for a range of public agencies (as opposed to just one), is able to direct blame for change away from the agencies and toward the Partnership itself. Displacement of blame away from board members (all public agency directors) reduces the likelihood that an organization will withdraw from the collaboration’s interests as the conflicts associated with change or reform occur.
The commitment of Partnership staff, and their ability to accept the blame for change and to displace credit for success toward agency leaders, is a critical component of the Partnership’s success. Equally important is their experience in multi-systemic work and capacity to support activities across disciplinary lines. To support and reinforce staff commitment and skills, they must have the strong and open support of the Board and Executive Director and access to ongoing training and technical assistance.