Strengthening Collaborations: A Roadmap for Successful Implementation Strategies

Strengthening Collaborations: A Roadmap for Successful Implementation Strategies

Creating A Space For Shared Planning

This blog was inspired by the amazing monthly discussions taking place within the California SOC Open-Forums. These 1-hour sessions, coordinated by Richard Knecht, highlight the activities of system partners. Each forum specifically celebrates successes, strategizes on challenges, and continues to outline both strengths and needs for system of care (SOC) planning.

The term ‘systems partners’ captures the essence of system of care, where those who serve children/youth, emerging adults, and families, join in working together. It is this partnership of systems which strengthen collaborations for successful outcomes. However, planning is needed at every stage of the implementation process. In fact, planning must continuously occur to ensure that system of care remains focused on serving everyone, including those with intense, complex needs and challenges.

It was in a LinkedIn post that Richard shared a detailed statement capturing the importance of collaborative planning. He spoke about a ‘tidal wave’ of reforms coming to California’s children and family services. The abbreviated list of reforms included Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA or Family First Act); Cal AIM; Juvenile Probation Realignment (SB 823); School Mental Health Grants/Behavioral Health Initiative; and Community Schools. These are all positive initiatives, which require complex solutions regarding successful fulfillment.

However, often when there are complex challenges there are detailed solutions which can be developed to meet these challenges. One possible solution was extremely well written in his post:

Every single one of these coming reform opportunities is contingent on one critical thing—the establishment of interagency planning for implementation and sustainability. And that comes only with System of Care. Unless child serving systems are fully aligned, connected, leveraged and braided together in a System of Care, as required by AB 2083:

  • Agencies can’t identify each other’s eligible youth, so delivery of services only targets a small at-risk or eligible cohort. 
  • Agencies serving only a defined sector of “eligible” young people inevitably bounce the ineligible kids back and forth between systems, restricting or delaying care in the process.
  • Departments can’t sustain funding after the state’s initial investments run out.
  • Departments need one another’s fiscal resources in order to match or leverage the primary funding. 

California System of Care Open-Forums For Safe Sharing

It goes without saying that for sessions like these, where different systems come together, a ‘safe environment’ must be created in order to be successful. When someone feels safe in sharing both openly and honestly then the dialogue between systems become useful for planning. Richard Knecht begins each session with a welcoming message, clearly outlining that these sessions are not sanctioned by any one entity and are ‘judgement free.’ He creates an environment where individuals can safely share, starting with successes where things are working well and continuing with those areas where there are challenges.

Each month a different topic is highlighted, along with a guest speaker, whose expertise lends to learning and sharing. The most recent Open-Forum Session captured the importance of ‘family voice & involvement’ in systems of care planning. The special guest was Carolyn Cooper, who has served as a national advocate for youth and families since the 1980s. She led United Advocates for California Families, serving on both state and federal committees developing policies which support the active involvement of families. Her work focuses around educating both systems partners and families about systems of care functioning. Carolyn continues to serve as a motivating and guiding force in the successful statewide rollout of California Children’s System of Care.

It was this Open-Forum Session which sparked my recollection of a conversation with another amazing thought-leader, Lucy Keating. Lucy was one of the early leaders in the statewide rollout of Children’s SOC in New Jersey. A staunch advocate for youth and family voice, she provided me with amazing information connected with successful SOC implementation. Hearing Carolyn discuss important strategies for systemic partnerships led to recalling the ‘roadmap’ conversation. Both Carolyn and Lucy outlined the 5-R’s of the Roadmap for Successful Implementation Strategies. Carolyn provided incredible information with many essential take-aways.

As a tribute to both amazing thought-leaders these are the 5 Foundational R’s. It is important to say foundational rather than simple steps because the concepts are easy to understand but more complex to fulfill. They are as follows: Relationship-importance of developing genuine relationships; Roles-clearly sharing the specific responsibilities connecting with each role; Resources-sharing existing resources and community supports; Respect-be genuinely respectful to everyone, especially those being served. Then the last R was extremely interesting to hear…Revisions. For any system to be successful it must continuously be revised or updated to effectively meet the needs of everyone SOC serves.

Open-Invitation For California Systems Partners

It has been an amazing experience to participate in the California System of Care Open-Forums. These 1-hour sessions are open to all system of care partners, including family members and other stakeholders. A special ‘Thank You!’ goes to Richard Knecht, a longstanding thought-leader in California, who facilitates these monthly sessions with the goal of achieving systemic excellence. In addition, a message of ‘Much Appreciation’ is being sent out to the guest speakers who share their time and expertise with the group. Lastly, a heart-felt ‘Great Admiration’ to those attendees who continue to support system of care work well outside of their day-to-day job responsibilities and duties.

An Open-Invitation goes out to all California’s Systems Partners. If you are interested in learning more about these session and want to participate please reach out to Richard or feel free to contact me at [email protected]

To further highlight the CALL TO ACTION and get everyone excited to attend and participate in California’s SOC Open-Forums here is the last segment from Richard’s LinkedIn post:

If you’re a department head responsible for any youth related reforms, making sure the System of Care Interagency Leadership work is done first is imperative. Here is a link to the state’s 1998 Children’s System of Care toolkit, developed more than 20 years ago, but still amazingly cogent and filled with tools and guidance for building a local system of care.

Participating in these sessions is a call for action, moving systems of care towards the next level of ‘Systems That Care!’ The action is taking place throughout the State of California and with every system represented, including those with ‘lived experience’ providing essential guidance. It is a true-honor and privilege to support California Children’s System of Care, especially working here at Opeeka. It is Opeeka’s mission, which we should all embody every day by keeping the person at the center of care and support health equity for all. To learn more about how Opeeka’s Person-Centered Intelligence Solution (P-CIS|pronounced pieces) can support you and your organization please contact us today! A sincere ‘Thank you!’ to all of those who are serving children, youth, emerging adults, adults, and families.

This blog is dedicated to the memory of Lucy Keating, who passed away on January 7, 2021. Lucy’s work continues through the service of those who are committed to the values and principles of SOC.