As you think about your agency’s stakeholders, the list will quickly become unmanageable, if you do not divide them into categories or groups. To do this, first consider your agency’s political stakeholders. Generally this category includes elected officials but not all elected officials who have a “stake” in the agency’s success are included here. For example, judges are usually elected but belong in a later category. Here, limit membership to elected officials (including their aides and other immediate staff) who have a direct role in passing laws/rules and making financial appropriations for the support of agency programs and services. Although the political stakeholder list will vary from state to state and perhaps from agency to agency, it generally includes: the President and Congress, the Governor and Legislature, county Commissioners, and in some communities, the citys Mayor and Council.
Next, make a list of your agency’s administrative stakeholders. At the federal level, this includes, at a minimum, the Department of Health and Human Services. At the state level, this category includes, at a minimum, your state’s Department of Child and Family Services or Social Services. In Ohio, this administrative stakeholder is called the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. In many states, the state department will have district offices and may directly administer local programs and services. In some states, county officials may belong to the administrative stakeholder group. For this category, include all agencies and individuals who have an administrative relationship to the agency but who are not staff members of the local agency.
In addition to political and administrative stakeholders, the agency has mandated stakeholders. These are agencies and individuals who are mandated by law to work with the agency and with whom the agency is mandated to work. Of course, political and administrative stakeholders are not included here. For your agency, this group likely includes the juvenile court, the police, the District Attorney or Prosecuting Attorney, the Department of Social Services (if child protection is a separated function), and mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect. Simply include everyone who is legally mandated to work with your agency but who is not a political or administrative stakeholder.
The next stakeholder category is Children’s Safety Net (CSN) members who are not in the earlier categories. Include agencies and organizations (private and public) that are not mandated to work with your agency that have positive outcomes for children and families as part of their missions or role in your community. This category usually includes local mental health and substance abuse agencies, schools and recreational programs, hospitals and other health services, and child treatment and care-giving agencies. The list for specific communities will vary, but you are including established organizations that focus their resources and services in part on children and families.
Finally, develop the list for public stakeholders in your community. This group excludes any organization or individual who is in an earlier category. Certainly your agency’s public stakeholders include the media and your business community. This category also includes other groups and individuals who can potentially contribute to the agency’s success or can potentially work against the agency’s interests.
The members of the political, administrative, and mandated stakeholder categories will change little over time, although the specific people will change frequently. The members of the CSN category will change somewhat more often and the members of the public category will change most often. Within all of the categories, though, the people will change with regularity so your strategic communication within each category needs to be continuous, even though you are working with the same organizations or agencies over time.