Polk County Decategorization

The Community Partnership approach involves four key strategies which are implemented together to achieve desired results. 


Individualized Course of Action (Family Team and Youth Transition Decision-Making)

Purpose: Genuinely engage families and youth to identify strengths, resources, and supports to reduce barriers and help families succeed.

Every family has strengths, which may be temporarily overshadowed by challenges they are facing. Family team approaches seek to identify and build on those strengths so the family can successfully address issues of concern. This approach is family centered, strength based, and focused on engaging families in an authentic way.

The family team meeting process begins by engaging and preparing the family and their support partners. A family team meeting is then convened, bringing together the family with formal and informal supports to develop a tailor-made plan. This family-driven plan is designed to support the family and ensure the safety and well-being of the children in that family. Action plans identify the resources, supports and specific activities to be carried out by parents, friends, extended families, and their support network. These plans adapt to cultural, ethnic and racial norms that vary from family to family.

Neighborhood/Community Networking

Purpose: Promote cooperation and form alliances to provide more accessible and relevant informal and professional supports, services and resources for families whose children are at risk of abuse and neglect.

Neighborhood/Community Networking focuses on engaging and educating parters and promoting community involvement to strengthen families and create safety nets for children. In addition, Partnerships build linkages and relationships among professionals and informal support systems.  As Partnerships gain experience, and as additional resources become available, Partnerships initiate more structured responses to address community-identified needs such as Parent Partners, Circles of Support, Transitioning Youth, and Neighborhood Hubs. 

Policy & Practice Change

Purpose: Improve policies and practices to reduce barriers and increase accessibility and relevance of services that lead to positive family outcomes.

Ongoing evaluation of how well families and children are being served is important to achieving desired results. Communities need to routinely assess their efforts, identify gaps and barriers, and chart courses to improve policies and practices.  Partnerships test innovative approaches, promote best practices, and influence system changes to better serve families and protect children.

Parents and youth who have real life experiences with the child welfare system are key contributors to the development of policy and practice change. Involving community members, as well s families and youth directly impacted by the child welfare system, significantly changes the conversation about policies and practices related to child protection.

Partnerships work to develop and implement plans to address specific barriers and to incorporate best practice approaches in the delivery of services. Examples include:

  • Promoting authentic family and youth engagement
  • Reducing minority disproportionality and disparity in the child welfare system
  • Expanding the availability and enhancing the quality of family team meetings
  • Implementing youth-centered transition planning for youth leaving foster care

Shared Decision Making

Purpose: Provide leadership for collaborative efforts that promote community responsibility for the safety and well-being of children.

Community Partnerships are founded on the principle of shared responsibility for the safety of children. Partnerships are guided by organized shared decision making committees that include a wide range of community members from the following groups:

  • public and private child welfare and juvenile justice
  • parents and youth, including those with prior system involvement
  • education and early childhood
  • physical and mental health
  • domestic violence and substance abuse
  • volunteers, non-profit, and faith-based
  • law enforcement and legal
  • local government
  • business and civic

Parents, youth and the Department of Human Services are essential players in the collaborative work of local Partnerships. 

These decision making groups are engaged in assessing and responding to the needs of children and families in the community. This includes planning, implementing and evaluating the strategies and activities of the local Partnership. The group is also responsible for educating their local community about the importance and community benefits of children's safety and well-being.