Guest commentary: Collaboration allows YouthZone to mesh services with local partners
A collaborative approach with community partners provides effective opportunities for early intervention with youth in our region. As YouthZone’s new Program and Outreach Coordinator, my goal is to create and implement new ideas through these collaborations to identify gaps for each client.
Utilizing each partner’s strengths and expertise leads to proactive intervention with higher quality results without duplicating services.
YouthZone’s service area covers Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco Counties. That’s a lot of ground to cover. Collaborating allows YouthZone to bridge the gaps by working with partners to implement or strengthen existing programming to meet the needs of youth and family in our communities. Partners take a more strategic approach to utilizing a larger range of benefits, reduce risks and increasing cost sharing opportunities. Each organization brings their unique expertise, knowledge and resources to complement one another.
A variety of agencies throughout the region support youth and families. Because YouthZone receives youth referrals from schools, public health agencies, counselors, police departments and the court, it is crucial that they are able to mesh services with those that already exist in each community. By connecting with these organizations in each community, YouthZone can appropriately and efficiently provide its own services.
Collaboration is a buzzword right now in the world of nonprofits and public health agencies, but it is an important strategy in youth advocacy and is often a mandatory requirement by local and state funding agencies and private foundations. Research shows that organizations working together deliver results efficiently and economically. As a relatively small organization, YouthZone is able to be nimble and agile when engaging with other youth-serving entities.
Building trusting, friendly and professional relationships with the people who work for the other youth-serving agencies and organizations provides a foundation to support our young people. Each partner should understand available services of other youth-serving organizations, know which clients they serve, and explore how they each operate.
The experts at YouthZone are connected to the experts at these other agencies. A clear vision, open and honest communication, and having the right people at the table, makes everyone feel respected and appreciated by having a unique contribution to make. This creates a successful working environment conducive for growth, synergy and productivity.
Great collaborative partners are ones who are passionate about the work, want to make a difference, are open to new ideas, and are flexible and willing to take on tasks and follow through. Combined efforts make for a better outcome and allows for a more systematic approach to identify and tackle barriers for youth and families.
A service provider or youth organization that is not currently collaborating with YouthZone can get in touch with me to discuss possibilities for working together to serve youth in crisis. I can be reached at email@example.com.
Airen Goodman holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Mediation and Conflict Resolution. Her background and skills include mental health counseling, crisis intervention, restorative justice and mediation.