By Linda G. Kunesh, Ph.D., and Joanne Farley
Communities face a host of problems that threaten the physical, social, and individual well-being of their members. Increases in unemployment, high school drop-out rates, divorce, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and domestic and gang violence are just a sample of the difficult issues that communities must confront. Even more disturbing, these problems appear to be interrelated; children and families who experience one problem are more likely to suffer from other problems as well.
If problems are interrelated our solutions need to be also. Services must be integrated and multidimensional - they must be coordinated to attack many problems at once rather than one problem at a time. Unfortunately, the service delivery system often is fragmented, one-dimensional, noncontinuous, rigid, and under-funded. In short, our solutions to problems that affect large numbers of our population are often inconsistent with the nature of the problems themselves.
Joanne Farley is an independent consultant based in Hilliard, Ohio. She has conducted extensive research and evaluation of interagency collaboration and integrated service systems at the national, state, and local levels. She is also the principal investigator for NCREL's Early Childhood Collaboration Study.
Posted on March 23, 1995