Building Effective Partnerships Between the Public Workforce System and Faith-based and Community Organizations
Below are excerpts, summarized content, and tools from the full Project Reach Out: Building Effective Partnerships
between the Public Workforce System and Faith-based and Community Organizations
Since 2001, the Department of Labor (DOL)’s Employment and Training Administration, in collaboration with DOL’s Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, has invested in numerous pilot programs to increase active and committed partnerships between the Workforce system and FBCOs, and to utilize the strengths of FBCOs to serve One-Stop customers.
An example of this work is DOL’s collaboration with Seedco. In 1998, with startup financial support from the New York Community Trust and DOL, Seedco established a network of FBCOs in New York City. The network now includes 53 FBCOs (both financial and non-financial partners) that collectively provide workforce services to thousands of jobseekers with severe employment and retention barriers, including One-Stop customers. Based on the success of this work, in spring of 2007, Seedco received a contract from the Tennessee Department of Human Services to create a Memphis-based FBCO network.
In 2005, based on Seedco’s success in running our FBCO network model in NYC, DOL invited Seedco to carry out a national initiative called Project Reach Out (PRO) to strengthen the capacity of five different WIBs and One-Stop operators across the country to create formal relationships with local FBCOs.
Through PRO, Seedco spent 18 months providing intensive technical assistance (TA) to five WIBs and One-Stop operators, assisting them in developing formal FBCO referral networks that could eventually evolve into financial relationships with proven FBCO providers. The Guide provides direction on how WIBs, FBCOs, and One-Stops develop their own partnerships in order to improve outcomes for One-Stop customers.
The network now includes both financial and non-financial partners that collectively provide workforce services to thousands of job seekers with severe employment and retention barriers, including One-Stop customers.
Step-by-Step Guidance and Tools
Below is step-by-by step guidance on developing and implementing a FBCO network. Each step draws on lessons from the PRO WIBs and Seedco’s experience. A summary of the content appears below. Relevant tools and sample partnership documents are included at www.seedco.org/pro_toolkit
Step 1: Identify One-Stop Goals and Examine Types of Partnerships that will best meet the needs of your WIB or One-Stop
When planning FBCO partnerships, the WIB or One-Stop Operator should first and foremost consider their organization's needs and how those needs can be met through partnership. Meeting a specific One-Stop or WIB need should be the engine that drives this process, and the design and execution of the effort should work towards this goal.
Step 2: Self-assess readiness for developing formal FBCO partnerships
While it is important for the proposed FBCO partnership to meet a critical need for you as a One-Stop operator or WIB, satisfying this threshold does not ensure the success of such a partnership. Equally important is the One-Stop operator’s and/or WIB’s self-assessment of its own readiness and ability to take on new partnerships. Several factors should be taken into account as part of this self-assessment process, including: political or funding environment, organizational buy-in and anticipating barriers to sustained commitment, and assessing available staff resources.
Step 3: Research Potential Partners in Your Community
In developing a mutual referral partnership (i.e., a system of referrals and communication between the WIB or One-Stop and local FBCOs), it is important to identify FBCOs that meet the goals of the project and are willing to enter into a partnership with the One-Stop. To this end, you will need to research potential partners and the services they provide.
Step 4: Outreach to Potential Partners
Conducting outreach serves a number of purposes. First, it allows the WIB or One-Stop to share information with potential partners about its goals and ideas for a partnership. Second, it provides an opportunity for FBCOs to educate WIB or One-Stop operators and the other FBCOs about their programs, needs, and concerns about the prospect of partnership.
Step 5: Assess and Select Potential Partners
The success of a WIB or One-Stop and FBCO relationship hinges on the ability of each partner to meet its partnership obligations. When establishing a network of new providers that will work with the WIB or One-Stop, the ability of each partner impacts the ability of all partners to successfully serve the community. It is crucial, therefore, that partners have the capacity to deliver services that will meet the goals of the program. The Step 5 section outlines broad qualities that potential partners should possess, as well as some proven processes for selecting the best-suited organizations for partnership.
Step 6: Formalize FBCO relationships
Once FBCOs have been selected, the WIB or One-Stop operator should take action to define and solidify the partnership. This step allows partners to formally agree on the partnership obligations and consequences for not meeting these obligations. Not all partnerships will be structured in the same way, depending on the level of formality or specific funding streams or project goals. Accordingly, WIBs/One-Stops can choose among several different tools to formalize partnerships. These tools include MOUs, grant awards, and formal sub-contracts. While many of these tools and agreement types apply to other types of partnerships that the One-Stop or WIB may have, they also work well for FBCO partnerships and should reflect in detail the expectations for the collaboration. Step 6 details tips for all formal partner agreements.
Step 7: Implement FBCO partnerships
Holding a training session can be a helpful way to demonstrate commitment to the project and to make sure that everyone is on the same page. The WIB or One-Stop should also consider conducting initial site visits to assess staff readiness for project launch, gauge training and technical assistance (TA) needs, and provide one-on-one TA. The WIB or One-Stop operator should confirm that a FBCO has the capability to handle the increased client flow that a partnership will involve, and that FBCO programming will meet the needs of One-Stop customers.
Step 8: Ongoing Management of FBCO Partnerships
There are three key ways to manage your FBCO network’s performance: collecting and analyzing data; holding partner meetings; and assigning staff to maintain contact with FBCOs and provide support. Step 8 also outlines the importance of qualitative assessment to supplement the data that is collected on performance, and how a corrective action plan (CAP) can be used to guide a FBCO partner in improving its performance over time.
Lessons Learned are also available at www.seedco.org/pro_toolkit.