Collaboration and Resource Sharing to Improve Services to Indian Youth
Volume 1, Issue 1
When looking at policy or program implementation, it is important to understand that often the success of a policy or program is dependent upon interagency or intergovernmental collaboration and cooperation. Key to collaboration and cooperation is the ability of agencies to share resources. The essence of collaboration is resource sharing since organizational priorities and institutional pride are based in resource allocation and utilization. Resource sharing represents commitment to something larger than the single focused organizational goals and objectives and a shift to enter into relationships with other agencies to achieve shared goals, visions and responsed to mutual interest and obligations.Resource sharing requires development and enhancement of relationships and commitment to achieve something through that relationship, which may not otherwise be achievable by an individual agency or organization.
There are several requirements to develop and nurture strong relationships and commitment. The first of those requirements can be described as people and organizations taking large doses of “Vita-C”. Vita-C describes action words connoting a commitment to develop and enhance relationships. Vita C includes:
While there are more Vita C words, these eight are particularly necessary for successful interagency relationships. If agencies take high doses of Vita C, the result would be positive interagency accomplishments and a reduction of “turfism” and other negative attitudes and outcomes.
Most agencies would prefer that the “other” agency be required to cooperate with them. The question of who is responsible for resource sharing and cooperation is one that many organizations would rather not answer. The reason is that for there to be true collaboration, the relationship between agencies must be a give and take, conscious, negotiated relationship. It is much easier to be a demanding, one sided and organizationally self-centered agency or government. Organizations often feel threatened when required to share information, resources, or other assets. However, agencies that work with children, youth and families often have mutual interest, goals, and clients that necessitate collaborative effort. This makes collaboration an important responsibility of agencies to ensure clients receive the best possible service and/or care. Coordinated effort is essential to assist children, youth and families with multiple needs that require overlapping services from multiple agencies and programs.
Coordination of effort is the responsibility of all governmental and non-governmental agencies to minimize duplication of effort, services, and redundant red tape.
Effective collaboration is inclusive of each organization that shares a mutual interest, role or responsibility in service delivery, policy or program development and implementation. This includes public and private organizations and agencies and involving practitioners, administrators and policymakers. Various community groups, such as businesses, schools, the faith community and tribal spiritual leaders should also be involved. Lastly, it is important to remember that the citizens of the community, village or tribe are often stakeholders in certain policies and should be included. This would involve elders, parents, young people, and volunteers.
Resource sharing and collaboration should occur at all levels of interaction. For governments it includes Tribal, County, State and Federal agency representatives. There may be instances when reservation districts, chapter houses, or villages would be included. Towns and municipalities would also be included in many circumstances as well as quasi-governmental organizations such as Councils of Government, Conservancy Districts and other creations of government. Levels of interaction in the private sector would include profit and non-profit business and organizations. In communities, schools, community centers, the faith community and traditional and cultural resources represent the major levels of interaction.
Resource sharing is based in applying “Vita-C” to promote and enhance relationships. By applying “Vita-C”, diverse groups establish common ground to share visions, goals and values that make resource sharing possible. Agencies understand and validate the other agencies’ needs and wants. Agency staffs spend more time together in positive and productive interaction and there is an understanding and appreciation of one another’s roles and responsibilities. Collaborative effort increases community benefits due to greater presence and cooperation of all the agencies existing in a community.
Policies help people focus on issues, not the person or agency.
Public policy greatly increases the chances for achieving resource sharing and collaboration goals and can include statutes, ordinances, and standard operating procedures. Formal relationships for collaboration can be established through intergovernmental and interagency agreements. Collaboration policies often provide the impetus or reason for people who don’t, can’t or won’t work with each other to overcome political and personal barriers to get things done. Such policies help people to focus on their constituents needs, rather than on their dislikes of the person, organization, agency or government.
Perhaps the most important concepts around the issue of collaboration and resource sharing are found in understanding why collaboration should occur in the first place. To start with, no program can provide all things to those who are in need of services. No budget can provide the resources to assist all of those in need. Therefore, it is important to note that:
Resource sharing should occur whenever it is needed or desired. There are times when resource sharing or collaboration needs a formal process to accomplish the collaboration. This occurs when the collaboration is defined by statute (using mandatory or non-mandatory language), agency policy or procedure, or by intergovernmental agreement. Some examples of intergovernmental agreements are for information sharing, cross-deputization, multi-disciplinary team investigations, and special response teams or to transfer cases, share in the development of predisposition reports, or treatment planning.
Interagency collaboration is not always a formal process. Informal processes may establish patterns of collaborative behavior, such as protocols, which allow for invitation or active participation by members outside the agency. The culture of an agency or organization may traditionally encourage positive interagency relationships. There are also informal agreements that allow for participation via committees, boards and task forces that informally allow for joint problem solving. Round table discussions, training events, convocations, and conferences are some examples for information exchange and cross-training to occur.
It is important that community involvement be a vital aspect of formal and informal collaboration processes. There must be adequate opportunities for community members to share information, provide input, and assist with service delivery or policy development. Foremost, it is important to ensure that citizen involvement, especially for youth and elders, is meaningful, respectful, and age appropriate.
Like all successful organizational activity, collaboration requires planning. Goals and objectives for collaboration should be a normal part of every organizations program plan. Through planning, a common goal is determined as well as expectations for each participating agency or organization. By having the common understandings, it is easier to apply “Vita-C” and to work to develop and maintain the necessary relationship to accomplish goals and objectives.
Citation: Melton, A.P. (2002) Collaboration and Resource Sharing to Improve Services to Indian Youth, American Indian Development Associates Quarterly, Volume 1, Issue 1.
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