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How the Action Team Might Operate within Larger Networks of Activists and Supporters

To build and sustain comprehensive child development and universal prevention initiatives, other groups beyond the Action Team are crucial. Collaboration with broad partnerships at both local and state levels will supplement the Action Team’s public image, strategic formulations, and specific activities. Ask yourself what coalitions, partnerships or other potential organizational allies exist with a similar commitment to supporting development and wellness for all youth?[1]

Such entities usually collaborate because they find that the partners can accomplish together what they cannot do individually to identify and respond to current and emerging community needs, to develop and analyze data, and to pursue policy relationships with state officials. These groups can serve as recruiting grounds from which some of the Action Team’s essential actors will be mobilized.

For example, Children’s Cabinets have been established in more than 20 states and are “systematically changing the fragmented ways states do business for children and youth”.  Children’s Cabinets are typically made up of the heads of all state government agencies with child- and youth-serving programs. They meet regularly to coordinate services, develop a common set of outcomes, and collaboratively decide upon and implement plans to foster the well being of young people in their state.[2]

Strategically connecting your Action Team to these larger groups is critical. It will be important to ensure that you are all operating on the same overall agenda and coordinating your activities.

These are the kinds of larger groups in which you might nest the Action Team:

  • Broad community partnerships, such as formalized coalitions with regular meetings, organizational structures, defined roles, and shared leadership, ownership, and decision-making, that involve a wide cross-section of people and organizations that come together to realize a common vision. While often at the local level, they can function on a statewide basis.
  • Coordinating teams, which are likely to be smaller than broad partnerships and perhaps more singularly focused on aligning existing programs rather than developing new initiatives. They may describe more defined roles for the participating parties in order to achieve the common purpose.
  • Coalitions for a different but related purpose may prove to be valuable allies, for example, school-based health or behavioral health coalitions, school-community collaboratives, or youth development initiatives.

Different questions will emerge from working with each of these structures. Your Action Team’s working relationship with each entity must be handled with respect for the other groups’ missions.  This will require a certain amount of flexibility all around to devise efficient and effective decision-making structures that keep the focus on the goal of building and sustaining comprehensive interventions and community approaches.

[1] There is a large literature on such coordinating entities and partnerships. See for example: Safe Schools/Healthy Students, National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention at Education Development Center (EDC), Stories of Sustainability: Snapshots from the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative, 2013.
[2] http://forumfyi.org/readyby21/childrens-cabinets, accessed December, 2013.

Updated June 2015

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