As a Child and Youth Care practitioner, I work with many families who also have other organizations involved with supporting their success. These organizations range from social workers, to pediatricians and mental health workers to Early Intervention Services. How do other Child and Youth Care practitioners strive to ensure a collaborative approach for supporting these families when many organizations do not see the benefits of working together for the family or are restricted due to large caseloads and underfunding?
Also, how can we ensure that families are not inundated with repeating and conflicting approaches to essentially the same issue when these organizations are not collaborating? I am worried that this could lead to the family refusing support altogether because of confusion and frustration.
Thank you for posting my question.
I feel the best way to support the success of families in regard to agency non-collaboration, inundation, repetition, and conflicting approaches to essentially the same issue is to spend time with these families. In my experience it has been through the relationship that I was able to talk with families about what they feel their needs are, what is working, and what is not. Families can feel empowered when they are talked with and listened to about their lives and how they see that looking in terms of success for them. I find that the families I spend time with know what is working and what is not and with some support/advocacy will decide which agencies they are comfortable with. I believe that people are their own best experts when it comes down to their needs. Sometimes through trusting relationships we feel safe enough to consider the need for change, whatever that may need to look like for the individual or family.
I apologize if my response seems simple, it is simply that I spend time with families/individuals where they are at and do not assume I am the expert regarding how to best support their success. Through conversation I let the families know that I can assist them in developing a support system if that is what they need/want.
In my experience agency collaboration can take time and occurs through building relationships i.e. spending time at other agencies getting to know the people there, showing interest in the services they offer, and talking about ways to work together.
I feel my role in spending time with families/individuals is all about building relationship, I find this assists me to advocate for families/individuals. It is through this relationship we are able to sit together and feel trusted in that we are or will work together.
There are certainly times I would refuse support if it was offered in the way I have seen at times.
I don't know that we can ensure a collaborative approach from organizations, but they are within our influence to model working together. CYCs are strategically positioned to know the young person and family (perhaps more intimately) and to support them in advocating for their interests.
There are occasions where we can speak better and
advocate better for our work. For example, rather than "missing time
with the child or youth to work with other family members" we can frame
as "necessary to work with the young person in their family
environment". It may seem subtle, but it changes what the organization
is declining if they say no.
Families are the experts on their own experiences. Child and Youth Care practice is powerful because we acknowledge that and work to empower them. Perhaps helping them find better ways of living in the world and speaking up for themselves is the best lasting way to protect them against the repeating and conflicting approaches thrown their way.