Government policies must change to help partnerships improve the lives of young people.
That's the message of a new report and a journal article that examine how federal, state and local policies impede collaboration in the child and youth field - and how they can enhance collaboration instead.
"Government policies are far more likely to inhibit, rather than enhance, a partnership's ability to advance the types of comprehensive solutions that children and youth need," says the report, Collective Impact for Policymakers: Working Together for Children and Youth, released this week by the Forum for Youth Investment.
The report's release coincides with the publication of "Making Public Policy Collective Impact Friendly" - one of nine articles selected for a special supplement on collective impact in the latest Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR). The article was written by Thaddeus Ferber, vice president for policy advocacy at the Forum for Youth Investment, and Erin White, associate director at FSG, whose Collective Impact Forum curated the supplement.
Together, the article and the report examine:
The factors that inadvertently drive public policies to inhibit collaboration among partnerships - even though policymakers favor such collaboration.
Types of interagency coordination efforts that mean well but fall short.
Examples of policies that enhance collective impact.
How public policies can better enhance collective impact efforts. Among the recommendations:
In legislation that calls for the use of coordinating bodies to carry out a task, include language specifically allowing the use of existing coordinating bodies if appropriate, rather than mandating the creation of a new one.
Focus on measuring the success of funded programs by the outcomes they achieve rather than the services they provide.
Allow funding to be used more flexibly, including "blending" and braiding" among different funding streams, coupled with accountability for results.
The report and article stress that government agencies at all levels must be proactive in supporting collective impact efforts. "It is not enough for a policy to be silent on the issue of collaboration," the report says. "If a policy is meant to allow collaborative actions, it must say so explicitly."