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Webinar 13: Strengthening Social Service Systems through Cross-Sectoral Collaboration: Multi-sectoral coordination at the policy and planning level

Webinar Summary and Recording

Click here to view the full webinar.

On November 21, 2013, the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance hosted its 13th webinar to discuss multi-sectoral coordination at the policy and planning level. This webinar was the second installment in a two-part series on “Strengthening Social Service Systems through Cross-Sectoral Collaboration.”

Amy Bess, Coordinator of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, opened the webinar by emphasizing the importance of cross-sectoral collaboration at the macro level in informing and advocating for needed policy change, strengthening social service systems, and improving service delivery for vulnerable families. She highlighted the need for social service leaders engaged in this type of work to apply systems thinking and build interdisciplinary and action-oriented relationships. She then introduced the webinar speakers who shared their experiences planning across ministries and stakeholder groups to develop and implement standards of care for vulnerable children, as well as cultivate leaders in a variety of sectors with the capacity to drive policy outcomes to improve services for children.

The first presentation was given by Renald Morris, Program Manager of the Leadership and Innovation Network for Collaboration in the Children’s Sector (LINC) and African Senior Fellows Programme with the Synergos Institute in South Africa. He focused his presentation on experiences creating and sustaining networks of high-level individuals in the children’s sector. He described the process of forming LINC, which currently consists of 99 senior leaders from donors, NGOs, businesses and government, representing over 60 organizations, and aims to foster leadership development and relationships needed for pursuing systems-level change. He gave examples of policy areas that teams of fellows had tackled during their time in the program. He emphasized the time needed for relationships and trust to form among the fellows, as well as the importance of these relationships to building coalitions and establishing a collaborative approach. The level of teamwork they achieved created a broad multi-organizational power base that was able to deliver much more than any individual organization could have done on their own. To close his presentation, Renald imparted some key lessons learned from the program, including recognizing the challenges of predicting the future influence of a particular action on policy, staying the course, but also knowing when to let go.  

Roselyn Were, Senior Quality Improvement (QI) Advisor for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Programs, the USAID-funded ASSIST Project and University Research Co., LLC, provided an in-depth look at multi-sectoral collaboration undertaken to develop and implement national standards for QI of OVC programs in Kenya. As a response to a lack of coordination among OVC programs and unequal distribution of interventions in the country, the National Steering Committee for OVC determined a need for standards and guidelines in this area and established a multi-sectoral QI technical working group within the Department of Children’s Services. She presented key milestones in the standards’ development as well as a road map for implementation of these standards at the national, county, and service-delivery levels. To date, this multi-sectoral effort has led to plans to develop a national directory of service providers, resulting in more opportunities for training and a greater understanding of the workforce responsible for caring for OVC, as well as the formation of 344 QI teams at the community level. These teams consist of a variety of frontline workers such as community health workers, volunteer children’s officers, and paralegals who have taken on the task of implementing these standards and reporting on their impact on vulnerable children. From development of the standards to their implementation by these teams in the field, Roselyn’s presentation demonstrated how cross-sectoral collaboration at all levels has resulted in more coordinated responses to OVC throughout the country.

Each of the presentations was followed by a brief question and answer session moderated by Jim McCaffery, Senior Advisor with CapacityPlus. Questions focused on actions that could be taken to build trust among high-level individuals involved in these multi-sectoral groups, as well as specific examples of challenges encountered by group members in advocating for a policy change or implementation of national standards. Participants were also interested in the selection process for LINC fellows and members of the multi-sectoral QI technical working group, as well as recommendations and other details surrounding the formation of these groups.