A study (Imel and Sandoval 1990) of exemplary linkages in Ohio listed the following suggestions for developing successful linkages:
Focus on the needs of the client in building linkages. Such an emphasis stresses cooperation, makes good use of existing resources, and helps eliminate "turfism" and duplication of services. It may also require changes in procedures.
Get to know the other agencies involved. You may need to get out of your office and go to meet people and share information. Such knowledge provides understanding that the organizations involved operate differently and that the groups need to learn about each other.
Remember that linkage development takes time, patience, and persistence as well as the active involvement of the person(s) responsible.
Establish common goals and purposes, set target dates and make assignments, and establish subcommittees to do work.
Once the team is in place, take the bold approach and invite all concerned parties to get involved in seeking solutions to barriers. This might include going right to the top, rather than through the chain-of-command in order to establish linkages.
Exchange visits with other agencies to allow staff to become acquainted and to get ideas.
Become familiar with relevant legislation.
Successful interagency linkages and collaboration can result in many potential benefits:
Clearly, developing and fostering interagency linkage teams at the local level is not for the faint hearted. Vision, persistence, and a desire to improve client services are essential ingredients. Collaboration can happen, but someone must take the initiative.