The Potential Power of Cross-Sector Collaborations to Impact Prevention Outcomes

September 4, 2020

Systems for Action recently hosted a webinar to introduce a new study-in-progress to test an innovative model for preventing child maltreatment and adverse child experiences (ACEs) by aligning health and social services for vulnerable families in St. Louis. The Parents and Children Together - St. Louis (PACT-STL) initiative aims to braid together services and funding streams from multiple sectors to assist families with children who are referred to child protective services (CPS) for first-time and low-severity problems. This study-in-progress uses a mixed-methods design to evaluate the initiative's effects on cross-sector relationships among community organizations, access to needed services among parents and children, and subsequent CPS referrals and costs. Researchers at Washington University's Brown School of Social Work are collaborating with Vision for Children at Risk, Missouri Department of Social Services, St. Louis Housing Authority, St. Louis Department of Health, and other community organizations across the city of St. Louis to conduct the study. Findings will be used to assist other communities in implementing successful financing and service delivery models for preventing ACEs.

During the webinar, researchers and providers in their community shared their early lessons learned and hopes for the potential power of these cross-sector collaborations to positively impact prevention outcomes. They anticipated that the following actions from cross-sector collaborations would yield the greatest outcomes to prevent child maltreatment and ACEs:

·        Having a shared, strategic vision as a Collaborative

·        Demonstrating a willingness to realign funding

·        Shifting the purpose of the Collaborative away from reporting and toward shared activities

While the research is still in-progress, the cross-sectional efforts already in place indicate community desire to establish a continuum of care that is embraced by collective partners to help protect child well-being.  

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