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Excerpted from Chapter 4 of Tools for Transition in Early Childhood: A Step-by-Step Guide for Agencies, Teachers, and Families, by Beth S. Rous, Ed.D., and Rena A. Hallam, Ph.D.
Copyright © 2006 by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Claire, the chair of the Metroville interagency transition team, is frustrated. The team has been working for 6 months now on getting a plan in place to support some of the activities they are interested in implementing to address their transition problems. She was so excited when they finally identified the agency representatives to sit on the team, but now that they have the names, everything seems to be falling apart. First, it seems that different people are attending the meetings every month. This means that Claire spends most of the meeting time bringing people up to speed before they can move forward. Second, when they do make decisions, they seem to revisit them the next time they are together. She needs help!
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The community transition process is heavily influenced by the ability of community agencies to work and make decisions together as an interagency group. Interagency collaboration is a common need in most community initiatives. With the greater number and types of services available to young children and their families comes the need for more extensive and effective collaboration between the agencies providing these services. Implementing community-based initiatives can be both rewarding and challenging. Few would argue that collaboration among agencies in supporting young children and families is a worthy and laudable goal. In fact, numerous studies have been conducted, books have been written, and resources have been developed to help agencies work together more effectively to implement services. However, the increasing demands on agencies for higher levels of service in terms of quantity and quality, the recent focus on accountability for results, and limited financial and personnel resources serve to increase the need for strategies that make collaborative planning both effective and efficient. Using several important components of the collaborative community-building process, including communication and relationship building (e.g., Breznay, 2001; Page, 2003) as well as participation and consultation of various community members (e.g., Fawcett, 2003; Flaspohler, 2003), this chapter provides information on specific strategies for developing an interagency structure to support effective community planning initiatives.
As evidenced by the previous vignette, an effective interagency structure can support the team in how to work together to accomplish its goals and objectives, whereas a team without a formal structure can leave participants frustrated. A good interagency structure includes formal decisions about how the group will operate, the rules under which it will function, and the ways in which the team will continually build its capacity to make decisions and implement activities. The interagency structure sets the framework for how the group will work together to accomplish its vision. There are three key components of the interagency structure that help make the interagency planning process successful:
EFFECTIVE TEAMS AND TEAM DEVELOPMENT
In community transition planning, a team is defined as a group of people who are working together toward a common goal or outcome. Developing effective teams requires commitment on the part of all team members. This process starts with understanding what an ef
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By Mark Wolery
Appendix: Photocopiable Forms