Community partnerships to serve families in which the child has been or is at risk of being abused or neglected have resulted from the development of a range of cooperative service arrangements. Many efforts are underway to include a wide range of service providers in meeting the needs of children and families.
One-half of the sites had established some type of community partnership to serve children and families. In Butler County the Community Service Review Team included approximately 25 people who reviewed difficult cases on a monthly basis and helped to provide a continuum of services. A Family and Children's Collaborative was developed in La Crosse County, which was exploring the development of a group to deal with case management and coordination among all service providers.
Two sites discussed improved relationships with the courts as a result of the involvement of a Guardian Ad Litum (GAL) for each child. GALs were hired in Butler County as staff to advocate for the best interests of the child before meeting the child in court. In Union County, the court appointed a volunteer GAL when the dependency case came to court. While not part of the agency, the GAL had contact with the child once each month and would attend all agency staffing meetings, court events, and mediation sessions.
The agency in Union County has been significantly affected by statewide initiatives to privatize services. Many service providers have become involved. The Nurturing Program, which provided parenting education and intensive home visits, was for low-risk families. In addition, other programs provided targeted mental health services and behavioral health care, including substance abuse programs and psychological assessments.
In Ventura County, extensive collaboration was also underway. One contractual organization was providing screening services and other services to children and families, such as child abuse intervention and prevention, family life education, family support, and court appointed special advocates. The human services agency was also implementing a support group program to provide direct feedback regarding agency programs and operations from current and former clients.
The Fairfax County agency made extensive efforts to involve community residents in solving problems of children and families. After relocating regionally throughout the county, multi-agency teams discussed community outreach and began to develop connections with other agencies, community groups, and residents.