The America youth population comprises about a third of the total population although the 2013 census showed that there was a decline in this figure. Children are taken to school from their early years of childhood to be taught and educated. By the onset of the teenage years, they are eligible to join colleges and universities to specialize on various courses and various fields of study. Equipped with this knowledge, the youth can now apply the knowledge leant to positively contribute in raising the GDP of a country. Before we enter deep into critically analyzing the input brought into multi-agency partnerships by youth we need to first shed light to know what multi-agency partnership is.
A broad definition of multi-agency partnership involves a situation where different organizations and teams of professionals offering different services come together to provide services that meet the need of children and young people and as well as their parents. (Carnwell & Buchanan, 2005). These agencies may also help youth in areas concerning their career and education. Multi-agency partnership is not limited to matters that concern the youth alone. Various multi-agency partnerships in other sectors of the economy exist and these include, but not limited to health, education, agricultural sector in the case of developing countries and many others. Some multi-agency partnerships provide access for better medical care to people and others are set to provide rehabilitative services to prisoners. Therefore, a multi-agency partnership can simply be a partnership of various organizations with different areas of professional specialization that come together in order to efficiently provide social welfare programs and other activities meant to improve the living standard of various needy groups in the society. Various players in multi-agency partnership come together for the purpose of creating synergy in service delivery to the community (Tutt, 2010).
Remember that a multi-agency partnership is a combination of different organizations united for a common objective. The agency, therefore, requires a level of integration so that they can be able to provide services effectively. A number of practices need to be put in place in order to make this possible. Practices such as defining the clear objective of the agency and clarifying responsibilities is seen as one of the most important practices in the successful delivery of services. Therefore, communication of the objectives of the agency should be clear to the workers and organizations involved in the agency and goals should be clear. Another practice that improves service delivery of the agency is the equal representation of all organizations that comprise the agency. Equal representation is important since it helps in reducing inequality and grievances that come along with it and which has the potential of lowering the productivity of the agency. Another healthy practice that helps in aiding the agency to operate smoothly is joint training opportunities for all employees in the agency to get rid of stereotypes, interdisciplinary tendencies and to create one unit and the culture of multidiscipline. Another practice that would determine the efficiency of the agency is that the agency leaders ought to secure commitment from all partners (Harker et al. 2004). Without a commitment, there can be little achievement from the agency. Therefore, senior organizers of the agency should be committed to achievement and success of the agency.
Government policies and agenda towards multi-agency partnership have been always positive. The government has realized that it cannot be able to handle all the needs of its citizens using its apparatus alone not unless they partner with likeminded agencies so that they can create a channel to reach a targeted group in order to achieve set goals and service delivery to the public. As Cheminais (2008) notes, in 2003 the government of United Kingdom launched an initiative dubbed “every child matters” in partnership with agencies, schools, health services among others that was meant to provide safety, health care and education for all children.
The youth have been an integral part of most agencies with almost every agency focusing on them. Most of the agencies are concerned with the life of youth, their upbringing and their access to education. As I noted earlier, young people enroll in school to learn and to gain knowledge in preparation for formal jobs in their areas of specialization, in the future. The youth’s role as employees of these multi-agency partnerships has helped these agencies in improving their service delivery. As noted, most of the agencies are concerned with matters of youth. These agencies use youth to reach young people in the society (Bergin & Rea, 2002). The use of youths in reaching their fellow youths helps the agency in service delivery since most young people usually identify themselves with their peers. For example in agencies that focus on rehabilitating prisoners and other lawbreakers, it can use young people in executing the service since most of the law offenders are young people. This helps in achieving the set goals of these agencies as Perry (2011) notes. Multi-agency partnerships are formed for the purpose of changing a certain undesirable occurrence in the society. Therefore, youth workers help these agencies in achieving the set goal since youths are given the opportunity to know more about themselves, the society, as well as others using various combinations of learning and challenge as well as a room for success and self-fulfillment. These young workers help youths in developing positive skills and attitude, collective responsibility, identity and as well as having a voice in the community (Harrod &Smallwood, 2014)
Youth workers are able to identify themselves with youth and other young people owing to the training they undergo. They too are able to learn life skills through the experience achieved in the day-to-day execution of duty. Youth work helps in attaining the government’s goals of promoting proper upbringing of young people. The government aims at ensuring that young people are healthy and safe while growing happily into adulthood so that they can be able to demonstrate what they are made and capable of and at the same time positively contribute to the welfare of society. Multi-agency partnership through the youth workers helps governments in achieving this goal. This collective responsibility by various players in the society and the country at large helps in creating good citizens from sons and daughters of citizens of the country. Through this program, young people are safely cushioned from bad influences in the society such as drug abuse that results in juvenile delinquency, which can in turn expose the youth to hazards like sexually transmitted diseases and crime (Smith & Matthaei, 2011).
Multi partnership agencies have been useful to government since they have offered a way of enhancing government programs in reaching the targeted goal. They are formed by various players who include government, community, nonprofit and nongovernmental organization. (Gomez et al. 1993).
There are stages that are considered in partnership formation and which stage consists of a set of rules and policies to ensure that there is smooth running of the agency. (Davies 2001). The agency’s lifecycle is considered with each stage in the lifecycle having a number of rules. Laws concerning the formation of agencies are like that of a partnership and collaborative laws as stipulated in the constitution.
The first step in the formation of multi-agency partnerships is referred as the pre collaboration stage. At this stage, various organizations come together with the aim of accomplishing a certain objective. This is where they decide on resources to be used, representation of various parties involved in forming this agency and the amount of the contribution each party would like to contribute for the agency. Goals and objectives are set and as well as the time frame for accomplishing the objectives. Mostly, the government is the sole provider of funds and sets the criteria in disbursing these funds.
Another stage in agency life cycle is partnership formation. This is the stage where now actual steps of forming partnership are undertaken. Each participating organization is given a role to play and at the same time maintaining a principle of inclusiveness and communication with other organizations in this multi-agency partnership. The rights and privileges of personnel in the agency are spelt out as well as their responsibilities. In addition, the roles of all stakeholders involved are outlined to avoid conflict of interests and competition. This stage precedes the third stage of agency life cycle (Kislov, 2011). The third stage is partnership program delivery. This entails an actual implementation of mandates and objectives of an agency. In this stage, every member in the agency engages in mobilization of various resources in pursuit of the set goals. This stage involves actual roll out of the program into the market. Various marketing approaches are used so that the agency can accomplish its goal of reaching a wide area of their target. For example if the agency is aimed at organizing training for youths on matters concerning their sexuality and community work, it will go to various institutions of learning where they can create awareness to youths on the programs they are offering so that youth volunteers can enroll and learn. This stage also involves acquiring various workers and professional trainers who will aid the agency in service delivery. Managers and senior coordinators of the program are faced with the challenge of making that the program is implemented successfully as well as coordinating and controlling all the activities to spearhead the agency in accomplishing its work. Another challenge is winning commitment of all partners and making them cooperate without an element of competition. This is the stage where multi-agency partnership is brought to test. Therefore, it is the work of the program coordinator or program manager to down play all the issues and to ensure that there is no party that feels threatened or competitively disadvantaged (Balouziyeh 2013). The final stage is the exit stage. This is the stage where the agency has accomplished its purpose and objective and can now be terminated. In this stage, research can be carried out to determine the effectiveness of the program. The actual result and expected result are compared to determine how successful the program was. In the lifecycle of the multi-agency partnership formation, different types of rules and hierarchies are found in each stage.
The government is the central factor that ensures that the agency achieves it goal. This is because the government is the one that funds all the activities of the program. Government also acts as the sole unifying factor of the agency. Organizations in the agency are motivated towards a set goal since they receive their funding from the government.
There have been a number of practical applications of multi-agency partnership that have proven to be very effective in achieving their set goals. A Waste Management Program in Washington State King County has continued to with its mission as a successful multi-agency partnership. The agency was formed with the aim of protecting public health and environment by helping government businesses and citizens the threat posed to the environment by the usage and disposal of harmful substances. The agency is also involved in waste storage and proper disposal (United States, 2003). Every child matters initiative has also led to the creation of multi-agency partnership that has helped children and their parents in creating a good environment for all children to have a better upbringing (Cheminais, 2008)
The strength of agencies lies in the ability to combine various professionals from various fields of study to implement the program. This combination through partnership helps in bringing in a synergistic effect into the agency thus making it to be very effective. Another strength, which these agencies have, comes from the support that government offers in implementing the program. Multi-agency partnership also helps organizations involved in this agency in offering consistent service that does not have an overlap or duplication. This builds consensus and increases chances of success than when a single organization undertakes the program. Agencies promote unity in the society and increased ownership of responsibilities in meeting the needs of the society. (Gasper, 2009)
Although multi-agency partnership has been pursued in accomplishing the needs of the society, a number of challenges exist the derails the agency from achieving its set objective. One of the major weaknesses is the ability to introduce multidisciplinary concept in different organizations that come together in this partnership. This means that there is a challenge of creating uniting organizations in the partnership into one formidable agency that can implement the program effectively. This is because every organization has its own distinct cultural practice and different styles of management. Another weakness is the secret competitions that may go on within the structure of the agency by organizations that make up this agency (Cheminais, 2009)
Multi-agency partnership has be known for applying the service rendered by youth worker to reach their area of target or to accomplish their objectives. The environment provided by these agencies to youth worker helps them in gaining expertise and experience in their area of specialization. Youth workers are also given a challenging environment in the agencies where they can improve their expertise and skills. A youth worker may voluntarily involve himself in community services offered by these agencies or may be professionally trained and employed.
It is clear that the role of youth in these agencies is very important in implementing the program. Youth can be involved in activities of these agencies in reaching other youths. Youth can also be the main aim of creating the agency.
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