There many types of organizational relationships ranging from the very simple to more complex arrangements that involve shared funding sources. Below are some examples of how RHY and DV/SA service providers can partner, broken into a framework that ranges from basic cooperation agreements to full-scale collaboration.
- Download and print this checklist, Getting Ready to Collaborate: Steps to Consider in Developing Your Plan, to help guide the process of your building or growing your partnership.
- Service referral agreement: RHY and DV/SA service providers are in position to readily refer clients to one another through warm referrals (having a meaningful relationship with the organization and staff to whom you are referring a survivor). To increase confidence in referring between local organizations, each party should become knowledgeable of the others’ service delivery, including eligibility criteria for services, and agree to accept service referrals. This type of referral generally involves some type of agreement and consent on behalf of the survivor to share information between both organizations that will allow follow-up in order to know if the referral actually occurs and is effective.
Linking youth with needed support services allows them to make informed choices. When youth understand that there is a relationship between service providers, it aids in helping them feel more comfortable and secure in seeking those services.
- Staff Training: Increasing staff skills often results in improved services and improved outcomes for youth and families. Partners should agree to provide routine cross-training for one another’s staff relative to their areas of expertise. RHY service providers can offer a depth of understanding of youth culture and the trends occurring locally. DV/SA providers offer expertise in recognizing and addressing relationship violence as well as many of the related legal issues that arise in efforts to address the situation.
By developing an intentional plan to provide “cross-training”, expertise is expanded and service outcomes are positively impacted.
- Informational resources: Creating awareness about the issue and available services is a shared goal for both RHY and DV/SA service providers. Both want to make sure that helpful information and resources get into the hands of the people that need it, and that RHY and DV/SA service providers support each other’s efforts.
Informational flyers about healthy relationships among young people, crisis hotlines for RHY, brochures about specific programs and services locally, general information about RHY and the programs that serve them, and tools to assess whether or not the relationship you’re involved in is in fact a healthy relationship can be shared and distributed by all partners. Distribution may occur at offices or facilities, as part of community outreach, at formal speaking engagements, or at “tabling” at community events.
- Shared services: Knowledge and information should be shared between partners, including appropriate service delivery. For example, one partner provides regular groups or training for clients and stakeholders, such as a DV/SA service provider that facilitates training on healthy relationships monthly for youth in the RHY program.
- Provide joint training as community partners: Leveraging each partners’ unique experience and expertise to develop training and other resources can benefit both partners, and most of all, those that they serve. An example is RHY and DV/SA service providers coordinate to lead prevention education training at the local school district, or RHY and DV/SA service providers facilitate a monthly group for youth at the DV/SA program.
- Identifying trends impacting the shared service area: RHY and DV/SA service providers are connected to a range of diverse community stakeholders and are usually ahead of emerging issues within their communities. By coordinating around an emergent issue, positive impact and effective change increases.
For example, the trafficking of minors for commercial sexual exploitation/human trafficking is an issue for which both RHY and DV/SA service providers are often “first responders.” Partners can work together to document and respond to these incidences. They can also partner together to ensure their staff understand the warning signs of commercial sexual exploitation and implement internal policies for how staff should respond. Bought and Sold: Helping Youth People Escape from Commercial Sexual Exploitation outlines a clear strategy that includes coordinating community services.
- Responding to funding announcement that requires a collaborative approach: Collaboration has been demonstrated as an effective strategy in several social services arenas and is often a requirement of many private and public funding opportunities. RHY and DV/SA service providers that are currently working together will find themselves best suited to respond to funding announcements requiring collaboration.
One example is the OVW Consolidated Approach to Address Children and Youth Experiencing DV and SV, a federal funding opportunity that allowed multiple partners in the city of Seattle to coordinate a system of support that addresses the intersection of youth that are homeless and have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault. “Project360: Full Circle approach with Youth who are Homeless and Victims of Sexual Violence” is a trauma-based approach to working with youth that have become homeless due to sexual assault and then become trapped in a cycle of victimization on the streets.
Another example is the FYSB initiative that informed the initial development of this Toolkit and brought together RHY and DV/SA service providers for the purpose of exploring the intersection of these issues. Local and regional collaborations were funded to examine the intersection of relationship violence amongst RHY. Some important insights emerged that might inform the planning for future partnerships.
- Targeted Service Strategy: An integrated service strategy to meet specific community needs is a powerful approach that both leverages resources and expertise and positions each partner to look for new resources to support the work. This could include developing a targeted strategy to address a need that emerges through local needs assessment.
Even when additional funding is not available, partners can pool their resources to further advance the project and address an unmet need. For example, Project SAFE is a phone-based clinical consultation program for parents and caregivers of youth ages 12-17 at risk of running away or who have already run where a counselor will listen, provide tools for coping with the teen, and help develop an action plan to improve the situation.