Collaboration That Serves Children and Families Requires 3 Ingredients

By Isaiah B. Pickens, Ph.D.
Assistant Director of Service Systems, National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital

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Collaboration is a core concept for any effective system aiming to serve children and families. As a clinical psychologist providing technical assistance nationwide to service providers, I have witnessed the challenges of systems that fail to speak the same language, and the power of systems that efficiently use resources to supplement services provided by other systems and providers.

Three major ingredients to collaboration are foundational for effectively collaborating:

  1.     Developing a common language about the services you are providing. Whether through training and professional development or cross-system teams, speaking the same language about the types of services you are providing and the aim of those services can reduce redundancy and increase efficiency.
  2.     Integrating self-checks and supervision that prompt consideration of collaboration. When the expectation is set that collaboration creates more efficient service provision and potentially less work, it becomes a priority for everyone.
  3.     Including clients and their families as collaborators. Fully engaging those you are servicing and overcoming some of the barriers to health equity in challenged communities, requires fully engaging the perspectives of clients and their families. This ensures services that reflect the values of the community in a manner that compels engagement.

Happy collaborating!