Interagency collaboration is a predictor of post-school success, correlated with positive post-school outcomes in education and employment. It is defined as “a clear, purposeful, and carefully designed process that promotes cross agency, cross program, and cross disciplinary collaborative efforts leading to tangible transition outcomes for youth” (Rowe et al., 2015). Students with disabilities who receive services from community providers while in high school are more likely to be employed or attending postsecondary education after high school. Through interagency collaboration, schools can ensure that students connect with important community services and are more likely to be successful after school.
Too often, services are provided in silos. This leads to duplicative or conflicting support. Even worse, the lack of communication between service providers can lead to the dangerous assumption that “someone else will take care of that.” If everyone assumes someone else is helping a student or providing a service in a particular area, the student “falls through the crack” and fails to receive the support s/he needs. Through intentional communication and collaboration with community providers, we can ensure students access the services efficiently.
In successful interagency collaborations, school and community systems identify opportunities for partnership and align their services. Visit one of our blog posts, Community Service and Student Work Experiences are a Win-Win (Casey, 2018), to learn how the New York School for the Deaf partnered with a local community agency to support student outcomes in employment skills. This blog highlights how schools and agencies can pool resources for their mutual benefit. If you are interested in increasing interagency collaboration, but you are not sure where to start, here are a few first steps you can take.
First, ensure that you and your colleagues are knowledgeable about the community providers in your area. Resource guides provide a great starting point for this exploration. Resource guides for our region are located in the School Tools section below. Transitionsource.org also has a statewide community resource map where you can locate agencies by region and the types of services offered. Another great way to get to know agencies in your area is to attend a transition fair or other event hosted by the agency. Through this exploration process, you will gain the knowledge necessary to refer families to appropriate resources, identify experts in the field to contact when you have questions, and ensure that you know about supports for students both in and outside of school.
Second, create or join an existing interagency group in your area. Interagency groups provide an opportunity for agencies, schools, and families to connect and learn from each other. These groups are a wonderful way to stay up-to-date on the current events and services offered in your local community. Additionally, bringing together members of various agencies and schools creates a repository of invaluable knowledge, and provides a think tank to collaboratively address challenges or plan local events. In our region, these groups include the Putnam Transition Consortium, Rockland Transition Consortium, and the Westchester Educators and Community Agencies Network (WE-CAN). A representative from your school or agency can participate in these meetings and bring valuable information back to the organization.
Lastly, share this information with your students and families. Take the time to make the information accessible, and to provide it in a family-friendly, easy-to-read format, preferably in multiple languages. Through wide distribution, you will ensure that as many families as possible in your local community have access to this important information.
With just these simple steps, you can increase the interagency collaboration at your school, and increase the likelihood of positive post-school outcomes for your students!
Enjoy your exploration and I hope to see you at one of our local interagency groups soon!
Rowe, D. A., Alverson, C. Y., Unruh, D. K., Fowler, C. H., Kellems, R., & Test, D. W. (2015). A Delphi study to operationalize evidence-based predictors in secondary transition. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 38 (2), 113-126.
Casey, K. (2018, September 11). Community Service and Student Work Experiences are a Win-Win. [Blog Post].