Emerging Collaboration – 1992/1993

Emerging Collaboration – 1992/1993

  • Posted by Famcare
  • On February 7, 2017

The Family Care Network has always maintained the practice of building community relationships and forging new collaborations. One of the most significant and productive collaborative projects we were privileged to participate in, was the creation of the San Luis Obispo Children’s Services Network Council (CSN). This was a multi-year project culminating in 1992, when CSN was formally created by the County Board of Supervisors.

By way of history, when the Family Care Network started, there was little to no collaboration between county departments; in fact, you could say there was actually disdain, tension and conflict. Finally, the Juvenile Court Judge attempted to resolve differences by forcing department heads to get together and work things out. These meetings also included the County Juvenile Justice Commission. The Commission Chair, Jim Brabeck, offered to work on creating a permanent solution.

In researching what other counties had done to work more collaboratively, the commission discovered a very effective Children’s Services Network that was established in Riverside County by their Presiding Juvenile Court Judge. Armed with this knowledge, Mr. Brabeck launched a workgroup in late 1990, to explore the Riverside model and develop our own. These workgroup meetings took place every Thursday morning at 7 AM for well over a year. It was an amazingly diverse and inclusive group, of which I was asked to participate in. The end product not only resolved the “turf” conflicts which existed, but it completely transformed the San Luis Obispo County Children’s System of Care, making it an enviable, state model.

It really was an honor participating in this planning process as one of only three Community Based Organizations (CBO) included. The initial Children’s Services Network model approved by the County Board consisted of two components: first, was the Policy Council which was made up solely of County Department heads and elected officials; and second, an Advisory Council. The Advisory Council was comprised of County line staff, CBOs, community members and public schools. I was appointed as the first Chair of the Advisory Council which was tasked with creating multiple workgroups, determining key gaps in local services or community needs, creating action plans, and presenting those plans to the Policy Council for consideration and approval. As chair, I participated on the Policy Council who also added one other CBO to ensure “nonprofit” representation.

The Children’s Services Network had a grand, spectacular launch at the local Embassy Suites with close to a thousand participants. At this summit, multiple workshops were offered and hundreds of individuals signed up to participate in Advisory Council workgroups. Annual CSN conferences were held for many years after this wonderful summit. After about a year, it became obvious that the two-tiered model was cumbersome and ineffective. At that time, the Board of Supervisors consolidated the two groups into one Council which consisted of 40-50 members, while numerous workgroups and task forces continued.

Since day one, the Family Care Network has played a significant role in the development and productivity of CSN. I have served as the Council Chair on three occasions, chaired multiple workgroups and task forces, and have used the CSN collaboration to develop nearly all of our agency’s programs – in response to critical gaps in service and community needs determined through the Council’s needs assessment process. The effectiveness and productivity of this broad-based collaborative has been stunning, truly remarkable! But, that’s a story in and of itself.

Without our long-standing partnership and involvement with CSN, the Family Care Network would not be what it has become today. It has not only been the platform for us to respond to specific needs for service and the development of effective collaborative programs; but it has become the catalyst for system-wide shared values, shared practices, shared goals, shared outcomes, shared strategies and shared problem-solving. FCNI has always operated on the value of excellent planning and collaborative synergy, which has also been characteristic of the Children’s Services Network.

CSN participation opened many new doors and opportunities. Plus, it really put the Family Care Network front and center as a solution-focused, creative and effective service provider, committed to the greater good of our community rather than being self-serving. The advent of the Children’s Services Network in 1992 marks a significant milestone in our organization’s history which catapulted us into multiple new relationships across our service area and triggered explosive growth within the organization!

Our Therapeutic Foster Care program held steady through the year, still recovering from the recession effect, while our Outpatient Services grew modestly. This year was a year of holding steady while building the relationships we needed for future growth. We served 175 youth, and we gained dozens of new partners and friends in the community!