Community partnerships to serve families when a child has been or is at risk of being abused or neglected have resulted from 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, Pennsylvania, 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. La Crosse County, Wisconsin, developed a Family and Children’s Collaborative, 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 Litem (GAL) for each child. Butler County, Pennsylvania, hired GALs as staff to advocate for the best interests of the child before meeting the child in court. In Union County, Florida, 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.
Union County, Florida, has been significantly affected by statewide initiatives to privatize services. Many service providers have become involved. Examples include the Nurturing Program, which provided parenting education and intensive home visits. This program was for low-risk families. In addition, private programs in Union County, Florida, provided targeted mental health services and behavioral health care, including substance abuse programs and psychological assessments.
In Ventura County, California, extensive collaborations were also underway. The organization with which the Human Services Agency contracted for screening services also provided other services to children and families, such as child abuse intervention and prevention, family life education, family support, and court appointed special advocates. The agency was also implementing a support group program to provide direct feedback regarding agency programs and operations from a group of current and former clients.
The Fairfax County, Virginia, agency made extensive efforts to involve community residents in solving problems of children and families. After relocating throughout the county, multi-agency teams discussed community outreach and began to develop connections with other agencies, community groups, and residents.