One key to a successful partnership is support from upper level managers as well as front line staff.
Partner agencies in several sites noted that one key to a successful partnership is support from upper level managers as well as front line staff. For example, in Montgomery County, KS, managers and line staff in both the TANF agency and at their partner Four County Mental Health noted strong support for the Extra Effort pilot program. This support was considered essential to facilitate the development and refinement of this new program, as well as the implementation of referral procedures.
Referrals to partner agencies rely heavily on front-line staff ’s understanding of the services available and their willingness to refer clients. Although some sites reported concerns about roles and responsibilities when some partnerships were established, many of these concerns seemed to dissipate with time. Time spent working together allowed TANF case managers to gain a better understanding of the services offered by partners and to understand how these services complemented, rather than replaced services they provide. At the time of our visits, most TANF agency staff reported a strong appreciation for the services offered by specialized staff and partners, particularly given the large and multifaceted workloads faced by many TANF case managers.
Staff of the Targeted Assessment Project operating in Owensboro, KY also noted the importance of support and buy-in, not just from multiple levels within the TANF organization but from the entire community. University of Kentucky TAP managers established early-on that operating a project in multiple communities requires strong working relationships with each local TANF agency, as well as partner agencies that address unobserved barriers to employment. To obtain this support staff of the University of Kentucky convened meetings of key stakeholders to discuss the TAP and how it should operate in the community. This group formed a local advisory board that provides feedback on the effort and is even involved in hiring local TAP assessors.