Interagency working and information sharing between services has been highlighted nationally and internationally in recent years as important for improving services for children and young people. International literature indicates that where evidence of the impact of interagency working does exist, it is mostly positive although it takes time to become embedded in practice. When implemented well, interagency working can achieve changes in the way agencies work at four different levels:
|Level 1: Changes to inputs/processes such as the introduction of new tools and management structures
|Level 2: Changes to routines, experiences and practices of practitioners and service managers (based on professional perceptions)
|Level 3: Changes to outcomes for children, young people and families
|Level 4: Institutional/systematic embedding of the changes across organisations.
Effective interagency working, therefore, acts to create the ‘permitting circumstances’ for better functioning of front-line services and front-line staff. It is a vitally important part of improving outcomes for children, young people and their families, by means of its potential to improve all the front-line services that support them.
However it is also acknowledged that there are challenges to interagency working such as commitment obstacles, organisational challenges and contextual barriers or political climate. Some negative impacts of interagency working have been reported, such as increased workload (at least in the initial stages) and increased demand for services as the needs of children, young people and families are identified earlier when a joined-up approach is used.
The development of Children and Young People’s Services Committees in Ireland has been informed by and reflects evidence from similar interagency structures in other jurisdictions such as Regional Implementation Groups in New South Wales, Children’s Trusts in England, the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership in Northern Ireland and Getting it Right for Every Child in Scotland.
For more on Interagency Working take a look at A review of international evidence on interagency working to inform the development of Children's Services Committees in Ireland or visit the CYPSC pages to find out about interagency work in action.