Building Collaborative Helping Organizations

The Family-Centered Services Project offers consultation and coaching to help community and government agencies build institutional structures and organizational cultures that fully support more respectful and responsive ways of interacting with families.

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Collaborative Consultation to Support Family-Centered Services


We have developed a collaborative consultation process that utilizes a three-pronged approach to help agencies:

  • Identify their core values and principles and draw on Appreciative Inquiry to elicit the ways in which they are already putting those principles into practice.
  • Adapt an integrated practice framework based on core values and principles to their own particular context.
  • Develop institutional structures and organizational cultures that sustain family centered practice in the face of broader contextual challenges.

The “product” emerging out of these efforts is a process of reflective practice that helps agencies develop clinical approaches consistent with their values and context. This process has empowering effects on participants, contributes to enhanced organizational learning and capacity, and is congruent with the values and principles of family-centered services.

Stories from the Field

The collaborative consultation process begins with focus groups with both agency and family members to elicit stories of existing best moments of professional-family partnerships. The focus groups seek to identify:

  • Details of these best moments as described from different perspectives
  • Challenges that have arisen in those moments
  • Ways in which participants have constructively responded to those challenges
  • Lessons these situations might hold for the agency

Beginning in this fashion honors and acknowledges existing work, enhances engagement, and fosters “readiness for change.” It also helps us tailor subsequent efforts to the particular agency culture.

Training and Ongoing Coaching

The second component of this collaborative consultation process consists of training in Collaborative Helping, followed by ongoing coaching with agency supervisors and practice leaders. The training is grounded in a spirit of inquiry and builds on themes that emerged from the Stories from the Field focus groups. The initial training provides an opportunity to develop a common language which is then further enhanced through on-going coaching and action learning groups in which participants have opportunities to wrestle with the materials as applied in their actual work. The coaching sessions are conducted in person or via skype and are designed to develop internal capacity to continue to carry the project forward. As local resources become more adept, FCSP coaches move into a supportive background role.

Institutional Consultation and Technical Assistance

In the course of the first two components of this collaborative consultation process, broader organizational obstacles and supports for family-centered practice often emerge. In this component, we work with managers to develop institutional practices that build on supports to address obstacles to attain the identified vision of collaborative family-centered practice. This may include revised paperwork, clinical discussion formats, quality assurance efforts, family-driven outcome measures, and other mechanisms that enhance family involvement and input into services.

Ready to learn more about working with FCSP?
Contact us for more information!