At the basic practice level, collaboration involves workers from different agencies or programs working cooperatively to improve services delivery to shared clients. The primary benefit is improved communication and problem solving. Collaborative efforts are generally child specific, focusing on resolving conflicts, communication issues, and coordination problems between programs. They are program-centric in so far as the purpose of collaboration is to improve the ability of workers to provide services within their program or to reduce barriers to their delivering services in a manner consistent with the procedures associated with those services.
Partnering at the intermediate practice level involves opening the interface between two or more programs that may be internal or external. The goal is to develop and deliver a shared services or resource array the individual program cannot deliver. This creates a derivative program drawing resources from the partnership participants. The partnership is intended to achieve better outcomes for the shared clients of the derivative program.
Collaboration and partnering expand at the advanced practice level to incorporate a Unified Commitment to practice excellence for children and families. It is not enough for workers to collaborate to improve communication and to resolve services issues and barriers. Nor is it enough for programs and agencies to partner in order to initiate co-ventures or form new or derivative programs and services to benefit children and families. These are both useful and necessary endeavors. Nonetheless, anything less than a unified commitment to practice excellence is a less than encompassing approach and fragments child protection for children and families.
How it works.
At the basic practice level, problems and issues between programs are resolved through collaboration. This process is intended to improve services provided by each program to children and families who are clients of both programs. At the intermediate practice level, practice expands to dissolve the boundaries between the programs, creating a partnership or derivative program providing the same or new services array for the clients of the antecedent programs. Practice expands at the advanced practice level beyond partnering to incorporate a unified commitment to practice excellence wherein program structures disappear. The needs and interests of the child or family being served is the sole determinate of the available structure and services array.