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2007 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 12, No. 3
June 2007

What Makes Collaboration Work in a Rural Context?

Wesley Price, CPS Services Supervisor at Macon County DSS, says collaboration in his small community is both frequent and successful. Why?

Price believes the strong relationships that are the cornerstone of many rural areas is the primary reason. “We go out to eat lunch together, we see each other frequently, we go to churches together. The Sheriff’s Department, Mental Health and the Health Departments, the school systems—we all know each other.”

Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland agrees. “We’re not going to solve all the problems by ourself—law enforcement. Social services is not going to solve all the problems by themselves. You have to work together.”
According to a recent study of interagency collaboration in seven NC counties (Thompson et al., 2002), other elements that contribute to successful collaboration include:

• Strong leadership and shared vision
• Heterogeneous mix of partners
• Establishment of trust
• A positive attitude
• Role delineation
• Open communication

The same study found that major barriers to achieving integrated service delivery systems include lack of guidance about how to communicate, competition between programs, categorical funding, restrictive confidentiality policies that limit cross-agency access to information, and lack of time and energy.

References for this and other articles in this issue