A Case Example: MANY and PCADV
In 2005, the Mid-Atlantic Network of Youth and Family Services (MANY) and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) partnered under a grant from the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, Family and Youth Services Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The project convened a forum of interested and knowledgeable constituents, including domestic violence and runaway and homeless youth advocates and practitioners from the Mid-Atlantic region. The information below, details how this partnership utilized the Key Steps to Successful Collaboration:
Identify Common Purpose | Back to Top
Two primary goals were identified for the MANY/PCADV project:
- To collaboratively assess, plan and develop dating violence prevention efforts that address the unique needs of runaway and homeless youth; and
- To link RHY and DV/SA practitioners to develop joint models and strategies for working more effectively with RHY experiencing intimate partner/domestic violence.
These goals identified a common purpose. Participants in the collaboration came to the table based on an interest in addressing these goals.
Examine Core Values | Back to Top
The following are values shared by both RHY and DV programs in this collaboration. These powerful connections made it possible to build strong, concrete action plans.
- Safety is a Priority
The safety of individuals always comes first. Our services provide a critical community safety net to hidden and vulnerable populations. All individuals need to feel safe physically and emotionally.
- Client Centered Empowerment
Whether working with a runaway youth or a survivor of domestic violence, both service systems hold a strong belief in client empowerment. The client/youth is the expert on their circumstances and must be fully involved in any action/plan involving them. Establishing permanent safe connections through a holistic approach is key to our work.
- Respecting Diversity
Valuing others and the belief that in diversity comes learning, appreciation, and respect.
- Trusting Relationships
The development of a trusting relationship is the core of providing our services. Understanding and respecting confidentiality, boundaries, and differences through open communication and shared objectives is fundamental. People accessing our services have had at least, often many, experiences of broken trust.
- Belief Driven Work
The belief that change can occur, goals can be reached and positive outcomes are possible. This is demonstrated by commitment, energy, passion, and compassion.
- Community Social Change
Promoting social change through outreach, support, education and advocacy in the community is critical if we are to address the underlying issues. We believe it can happen and we are committed to taking action.
Create a Shared Vision Statement | Back to Top
Shared values provide the foundation on which to build the collaboration. The vision statement used for this collaboration read:
The Collaborative respects diversity and values belief-driven work to create community social change. At the heart of our work is our commitment to youth-centered empowerment, building trusting relationships, and emphasizing safety as a priority for the populations we serve.
Explore Shared History | Back to Top
As the respective timelines of each movement began to materialize, it became clear that there is a compelling, shared history and that our challenges intersect. The collaboration and group cohesiveness grew further as it became clear that DV and RHY services were developed on “parallel tracks”, influenced by many of the same events in very similar timeframes.
Understand Current Realities | Back to Top
The primary source of information to guide collaboration is a survey of the field (details and the Executive Summary are listed below). Information learned provides a clear vision for action. Some of the questions explored through this collaborative include:
- What are the policies of each system and what are their implications for collaboration?
- What information is currently available to support the work?
- What do RHY providers know about DV?
- What do DV providers know about RHY?
Develop an Action Plan and Timetable | Back to Top
Below are some examples of goals that groups worked to address:
- Information Resources – To identify and develop resources and information to increase awareness.
- Develop tools – To create outreach and educational tools to enhance our work.
- Youth Participation – To hear and bring the perspective of youth to the table.
- Tools to support collaboration – To improve access to services by educating domestic violence and runaway and homeless youth programs about the intersection of their work.
Develop a Learning Community: Care and feeding of Collaboration | Back to Top
After review and discussion of other adult learning models, MANY and PCADV decided to use the Learning Community model because it provides the context for people to share knowledge, expand their learning, develop strategic alliances, and form new ideas and practices. Within the context of a Learning Community, everyone has something to learn and something to teach. Here are some of the ways that this collaboration created Learning Communities:
- Cross-stream Training
An RHY outreach staff was repeatedly unsuccessful in referring youth to a local DV program. She became so frustrated that she stopped trying. Cross-training helped her understand that DV programs have a policy that the person needing services must be the one to request the services. RHY providers understand that a youth may not follow-through in accessing services and must support the youth in accessing these services. The tangible result is that successful referrals now occur, youth in need of DV services are getting them, and two programs previously disconnected are now working together.
- Tools to Mobilize Communities
In addition to seeking new information and insights, your collaborative needs tools to address their goals. In order to mobilize systems and communities, a participatory method of facilitation is needed.
- Opportunities for Informal Learning
Many of the staff in both service systems have roles within their organizations that few, if any, others in the agency have. The Learning Resource Team (LRT) provided a forum for individual sharing that participants identified as something they highly valued as professionals. Opportunities included:
- Networking lunches: Start each meeting with a networking lunch where members shared what is happening in their programs. Fueled by great food, members enjoy this opportunity to learn from one another in a collegial setting and begin the session with a sense of connection.
- On-line Connection: Establish an on-line learning community for on-going communication among the group. Having an online community that brings a diverse group of people together widens the conversation and opens the doors to unique connections that may not have otherwise been realized. This can be used to share events, resources, announcements, and strategies. One click and all are in the loop.
- Sharing Accomplishments: Each meeting included an opportunity for members to share accomplishments in their communities relative to our work together. In addition to providing a forum for support and recognition of these dedicated individuals, the ideas shared were often “borrowed” by other members to try in their communities.
- Sharing Challenges: As the LRT developed it was exciting to see how easily the members used the meetings and the listserv to share challenges they were facing in their communities. Strategies were brainstormed, lessons learned were learned, and situations were understood better. At times, just knowing you weren’t the only one facing the challenge was helpful.
- Sharing Resources: Members brought the resources they thought were worthwhile to the meetings and shared a bit about how they were used and what worked well in their implementation. A table for these was always available for perusal and was always filled with good stuff.
Establish Consistency | Back to Top
During the initial meetings, MANY and PCADV discussed how to establish a consistent structure, ongoing participation, and gave consideration to staff schedules to increase group participation.
- Consistency in structure (familiar and predictable format): Sessions should include a mix of learning, group planning and reflection, and dedicated time for small work groups to address their goals.
- Consistency in Participation (dedicated staff time, agency investment modeled by the leadership): Staff turnover is common in both systems. Collaboration with organizational support will remain active in the work by transferring the role to another staff.
- Consistency in Schedules (set meeting dates in advance): Setting dates well in advance allows individuals to prioritize the sessions in the planning. This is also true of the days of the week that the group will meet – always on a Thursday from noon to 5:00, for example.
Case Scenarios from the MANY and PCADV
Collaboration: | Back to Top
CASE SCENARIO 1:
Youth participating in DV prevention program runs away from home. The parent contacts the DV program and asks what they did to make her run. The DV program is presented with a complex dilemma.
Questions to consider:
- What is their legal responsibility?
- What is their ethical responsibility?
- What can they do to ensure the youth is safe?
- What is their role?
As an active participant in DV/RHY collaboration, this program was able to readily consult RHY colleagues to find answers to these questions. The youth was found living with a friend, on their coach in the basement, and was linked with family counseling services.
CASE SCENARIO 2:
Youth without citizenship seeks help from an RHY program. Her abusive father brought the family to the United States and then burned all their documentation in order to have control over the mother and two daughters. Although they were legally in the country, they had no way to prove it. This is not an area of expertise that is generally needed in the RHY program, but they had access to colleagues in the DV field through their collaboration. The DV/SA field readily provided all the information needed for the RHY to proceed in supporting the youth and her family.
- CASE SCENARIO 3:
DV/SA program has no shelter in their region to which they can refer youth. The DV/SA program was not previously aware that emergency crisis services for RHY exist in other locations. Linked with two RHY program options, they had referral mechanisms in place. This was fine as a temporary measure, but these programs were pretty far away from their home community. The DV/SA agency mobilized a community effort to open an emergency shelter for youth, which after 5 years of diligence is now in place. Support from their RHY collaboration partners was critical to their success.