Building and Sustaining Community Partnerships for Teen Pregnancy Prevention: A Working Paper. 2. Resources/Support

06/01/1998

The need for sufficient resources and support is critical in partnership implementation and maintenance. Various types of resources have been identified as important. Several studies find that paid staff is important because staff insure consistency in organizing, communication, and follow-through.(172) A full-time project director can be key to building external support and developing internal programs.(173) Partnerships with a project manager who assumes a central leadership and coordination role tend to be the most effective.(174) The value of a community organizer was noted previously.(175) Having staff who are from and accepted by the community(176) and have appropriate training and experience(177) are important to success.

The necessity of adequate, consistent, and sustained resources is noted in many studies.(178) Existing resources are inventoried and additional ones identified in the first six months.(179) Some advocate diversity in funding for achieving broad goals and increasing chances of survival.(180) Using local resources and focusing on sustainability and institutionalization are also advised.(181) Firm commitments for continued in-kind support are important.(182) In the case of one partnership, a large grant tied to services development early in the life of the association reduced the ability of the coalition to develop a comprehensive plan and then take actions necessary for community change. The evaluators speculate that if early resources are focused on the development of the coalition they will not create so great a problem.(183)

"Environmental linkages," relationships between members of the partnership and organizations and individuals in the environment but outside the partnership, are also important. These links, especially those to elected officials, government agencies, religious and civic groups, and community development associations, are often a vital source of resources.(184) Such links vary in formalization, standardization, intensity, and reciprocity, but the more links there are the greater the satisfaction of members.(185) Such links can also contribute to conflict.(186) There is benefit to establishing environmental links early in the partnership.(187) Formal links with other coalitions, which tend to develop later, are also beneficial in achieving goals.(188)

Leadership is a critical resource, and several partnerships have foundered because of a loss of leaders.(189) Development and dispersion of leadership throughout the association are important to sustaining the coalition.(190) It is also important that the leader be recognized as such within the partnership(191) and be respected by key influentials and by disenfranchised groups and communities of color.(192) Having leadership who have immersed themselves in the neighborhood improves cooperation.(193) Effective leadership is assertive and responsive,(194) fair,(195) attentive to and supportive of individual member concerns, and skilled in negotiation, problem solving, conflict resolution, and garnering resources.(196)

Technical assistance is a vital resource, especially useful in community mapping,(197) in community mobilization and involving residents,(198) and in involving key influentials.(199) Technical assistance is also valuable in forming the mission, goals and objectives,(200) in creating an action plan, identifying changes to be sought, and strategies and tactics for achieving change,(201) in annual planning sessions,(202) and in developing financial sustainability.(203) Perhaps most frequently, technical assistance is mentioned in connection with designing and implementing program evaluation.(204) It is important that the intensity of the technical assistance match the complexity of the partnership.(205)

Technical assistance falls into a set number of categories: enhancing experience and competence; enhancing group structure and capacity; removing social and environmental barriers; and enhancing environmental support and resources.(206) To be most useful technical assistance needs to respond to the needs expressed and identified by the community.(207) Some propose establishing "enabling systems" for community partnerships that would provide training programs for skills development; telephone and on-site consultation on organizational development; information and referral services; mechanisms for creating linkages among key community institutions and individuals; incentive grants and methods of recognizing achievements; and publications to promote partnerships.(208)