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Importance of Developing Partnerships
A strong human service system is greatly beneficial to the residents, community, and society at large. When services are effectively provided, society can learn smoothly, stay healthy, and be able to work productively. The hallmark of an efficient human service system is that communities can access high-quality services that effectively satisfy their needs.
However, the complex problems of many families and communities are not addressed effectively by some of the existing services. They sometimes tend to be episodic, with no follow-ups, or fragmented and crisis-oriented. The reasons for this shortfall are numerous. The lack of resources is one of them, and therefore, forming collaborative partnerships becomes important so as to pool the benefits of this procedure (Melaville & Blank, 2003). Partnerships are intense, and they are long-term since they make a formal commitment to accomplishing the shared and clearly defined objectives. Such collaborative efforts can reduce the issues of fragmentation of the needs of different clients. The human services become more available and accessible to the communities.
Role of Human Administrators in Partnerships
Human services administrators have a role to play in developing the partnerships. They are responsible for ensuring that the partnerships have well-defined roles and staffed appropriately. More importantly, they should have a conflict-resolution mechanism in place so that conflict is dealt with as soon as it emerges. HS administrators also enhance trust through sharing the knowledge, bringing people together so that they get to know each other better and also by specifying the desired goals from the agreed upon objectives.
The whole essence of leadership is to provide motivation for the staff to make sure that they can operate comfortably in light of a shared vision. HS administrators should ensure that team work is ingrained in the organization and bar any coercive and violent treatment cultures. Interacting with the employees ad discussing the issues raised and also ascertaining their doubts will help in aligning of their goals to the new system. They must appeal to logic and emotions as well.
Elements of Success
In embarking of a collaborative partnership, there are some elements that could contribute to the success of the process. For instance, the environment is a great factor. If there is a history of collaboration in the community, strong and supportive local leadership, favorable political climate, agency readiness, public opinion and legislative priorities create an impetus for commencing the operations and also give the collaborators a good idea of what difficulties to expect in the process.
A critical element in the success of partnerships in human services is the availability of resources, including both financial and human resources. Plenty of resources will be needed to paying the staff, for technology, training, and information (Mattessich, Murray-Close & Monsey, 2001). Effective communication in this context is fundamental. Communication should be frequent so that trust is developed and that one party does not feel like they are contributing more than the other party. Human service administrator must enhance communication by setting up systems in place in both paper and electronic form. It will ensure that expectations are well articulated, and each agency has well-defined goals.
Partnerships will require some changes in policies, structures, and rules. These alterations are necessary for making service delivery unified. The changes require a “big picture” thinking ability: the alterations can be intimidating and even threatening to some members of the original work structure. There could be an issue of differing organizational norms. Therefore, one group might feel intruded with new ways with which they are not accustomed. The result is increasing turf issues and competition wars.
It is important that employees from both sides of partnership feel that they are treated uniformly and thhat rights, privileges, and liabilities imposed apply equally to everyone.
Addressing Failed Partnerships
To address failed partnerships, the administrator should have a discussion with members of every group and prepare them adequately for such changes so that the issue should not be a shock. By continually involving the participation of the community and workers, the partnership becomes visible, and it also conveys the results. Therefore, scanning the existing organizational performance by the leader is of great use, and after evaluation, one ought to stipulate the guidelines as to why the change is necessary and lay out the principles and practices the company needs to successfully transform its operations. Some plans to achieve this may be structured, explicit or perfectly planned, while others may be implicit and organic.
An example of a partnership in human service is the learning community in Michigan which has integrated family centers (Rutledge, 1996). They started as independent programs that later have networked and grown into formal partnerships that operate today. The parts of network share core services and administrative resources.
Partnerships must be flexible and adaptable so that they evolve quick enough to meet the issues or needs that emerge. In this group, the learning community made a realization that some of the parents in the community needed support groups, the children in the program needed immunizations and early childhood volunteers required some training (Rutledge, 1996). Existing or new partnerships were found to meet these needs.
The participants are from the adult basic education, public school system, community education programs, and employment services. In this integrated system, the adults can learn, help their children learn, improve their parenting skills, and even find employment. The members insist that the system is not a program but a concept, a philosophy, a vision where all programs can work together in order to fulfill the needs of families.
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