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Inter‐agency cooperation between services for children and families in Ireland: does it improve outcomes?

Inter‐agency cooperation between services for children and families in Ireland: does it improve... Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyse the processes and outcomes of a five‐year initiative to develop inter‐agency working between services for vulnerable 10‐ to 18‐year‐olds in a disadvantaged area of Dublin, Ireland. Design/methodology/approach – A case study methodology included: review of documentation on 32 formal meetings of the network; 43 interviews with agency personnel involved in the network; in‐depth review of nine randomly selected cases which had been treated according to the network's agreed protocol of inter‐agency case management. Findings – The initiative created a vibrant inter‐agency process in terms of developing and implementing an agreed protocol for inter‐agency care planning. However, assessment of the outcomes for young people and their families showed that only a few made any improvement. Four reasons are suggested for this relatively modest result: the target group of 10‐ to 18‐year‐olds had experienced neglect and abuse over many years and this made it difficult to achieve positive outcomes for them; the quality and standard of work by some staff in some agencies was questionable; agencies did not seem to include inter‐agency work in assessing their overall performance, or the performance of individual staff; and most agencies did not seem to have adopted an outcome‐oriented, evidence‐based approach to their work. Originality/value – The paper points out that an effective and inclusive inter‐agency process is necessary but not enough for improving child outcomes; the sufficient condition for improved child outcomes is effective intra‐agency processes to deliver high‐quality services and a policy environment that supports and requires it. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Children's Services Emerald Publishing

Inter‐agency cooperation between services for children and families in Ireland: does it improve outcomes?

Journal of Children's Services , Volume 7 (3): 10 – Sep 7, 2012

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2012 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1746-6660
DOI
10.1108/17466661211261370
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyse the processes and outcomes of a five‐year initiative to develop inter‐agency working between services for vulnerable 10‐ to 18‐year‐olds in a disadvantaged area of Dublin, Ireland. Design/methodology/approach – A case study methodology included: review of documentation on 32 formal meetings of the network; 43 interviews with agency personnel involved in the network; in‐depth review of nine randomly selected cases which had been treated according to the network's agreed protocol of inter‐agency case management. Findings – The initiative created a vibrant inter‐agency process in terms of developing and implementing an agreed protocol for inter‐agency care planning. However, assessment of the outcomes for young people and their families showed that only a few made any improvement. Four reasons are suggested for this relatively modest result: the target group of 10‐ to 18‐year‐olds had experienced neglect and abuse over many years and this made it difficult to achieve positive outcomes for them; the quality and standard of work by some staff in some agencies was questionable; agencies did not seem to include inter‐agency work in assessing their overall performance, or the performance of individual staff; and most agencies did not seem to have adopted an outcome‐oriented, evidence‐based approach to their work. Originality/value – The paper points out that an effective and inclusive inter‐agency process is necessary but not enough for improving child outcomes; the sufficient condition for improved child outcomes is effective intra‐agency processes to deliver high‐quality services and a policy environment that supports and requires it.

Journal

Journal of Children's ServicesEmerald Publishing

Published: Sep 7, 2012

Keywords: Inter‐agency working; Young people; Process; Outcome; Ireland; Youth; Government agencies

References