To address both community problems and problems in the service delivery system, many agencies are reworking their organizational thought and practice to emphasize interagency cooperation, coordination, and collaboration. Educational, health, and social service agencies are beginning to recognize that only by working together can they provide services that are integrated rather than fragmented, multidimensional rather than one-dimensional, and continuous rather than sporadic. Still, for agencies accustomed to competition, boundary protection, and categorical funding, recognizing the need to work together is much easier than actually practicing it.
Recent reports and studies suggest that this need is particularly acute among agencies that provide services to young children - from birth through age eight - and their families.
Ensuring that mothers receive adequate prenatal care, that young children receive adequate parenting and guidance, that young children receive appropriate health care and physical development, and that they receive developmentally appropriate primary care and education is, in the final analysis, the responsibility of not only parents and family members but a host of other health, education, and social institutions as well. Communities must recognize their responsibility to and self-interest in the early experiences of children. An awareness of our interdependence necessitates increased environmental resources targeted at best outcomes for our youngest citizens. Thus, the efficacy of efforts aimed at caring for our children in healthy and appropriate ways will depend, in part, on the ability of parents, families, schools, service providers, and community organizations to work together toward this end.
Posted on March 23, 1995