Strategic Partnerships


Positive outcomes for children, youth and families are a shared community and government responsibility. The work of public child welfare is complex and multifaceted, requiring resources and specialized skills that no one agency can provide to meet all the needs of children, youth and families. To this end, strategic partnerships enhance and strengthen the work of the public child welfare agency.


This guidance will address how an agency should strategically build or change a system to meet the needs and deliver positive outcomes for children, youth and families. It describes the work partners should do to sustain, enhance and continuously improve their relationships.


This Guidance Provides Answers to These and Other Questions:

  • Why are strategic partnerships important and how do they directly affect outcomes for children, youth and families?
  • What is the strategic work in developing effective partnerships? 
  • What are the dimensions of partnerships that can be considered?
  • What are the key processes and how do they support and reinforce an effective partnership?
  • What are the roles, responsibilities and competencies of child welfare leadership and staff to develop and sustain effective partnerships?
  • What do agencies need to consider in addressing the issue of disparities of services?

Why Is This Critical Area Important to the Field of Public Child Welfare?

  • Collaboration is in the best interests of not only public child welfare but children, youth and families and all human service programs and agencies.
  • It is widely recognized both inside and outside the system that by combining efforts, sharing resources and working towards common interests, entities working in collaboration can accomplish more for children, youth and families than if each partner acted alone.
  • Public child welfare cannot be everywhere. The community and stakeholders have to be aware and involved in order to safeguard children and youth and strengthen families. The community and stakeholders must be engaged, intervene and support families before, during and after they face crises.
  • Effectively and efficiently using resources through strategic partnerships positions public child welfare as good stewards of public funds and reduces the duplication of services for children, youth and families.

How will Outcomes Be Achieved For and With Children, Youth and Families?

  • Effective partnerships address each child’s, youth’s and family’s specific individualized needs and build on their strengths without taking a cookie cutter approach.
  • Effective partnerships share some common values and beliefs, are accountable and work towards the same outcomes. 
  • Effective partnerships take into account the work of stakeholders and the community and use their individual skills and expertise to meet the needs of children, youth and families.
  • Enhancing the access to and quality of services through effective partnerships help eliminate disparities and reduce disproportionality.
  • Encourage and ensure continuity of care and support after public child welfare’s formal involvement.

What are the Markers of a Successful Partnership?

  • Partners spend time and energy to build, develop and sustain the relationship and feel that the use of their time together is productive. The partnership will be stable and experience longevity.
  • Partners demonstrate regular communication, mutual respect, trust and share information. Feedback should be attended to in a way that is transparent and evident.
  • Partners are willing to step forward to support and advocate for the common goal. If partners disagree, they do so respectfully and openly. In a crisis, budget or lobbying, partners respond and come together and do not work against each other.
  • Partners innovate, monitor and continuously improve their practices in order to accomplish the goals they establish for the partnership. Their successes may lead to an expansion of initiatives, replication and requests for technical assistance.
  • Leadership, political leaders, county exe utives and city managers demonstrate support through concrete actions such as allocating resources to the partnerships.


Change & Innovation Agency
FEi Systems
PCG Human Services
Governing Magazine
Conference Edge