On October 17, at an off-the-beaten-track banquet hall in Norfolk, something remarkable happened.
Health care providers, policy makers, nonprofit leaders, city officials, DHHS employees and more came together to discuss a topic that’s not always easy:
What they can be doing better.
This process, called a Service Array assessment, is designed to determine what services the community has available to its at-risk children and families, what gaps are left to be filled, and where collaboration between agencies can produce better outcomes.
“The service array was how we started the process in Fremont,” said Jenny Skala, Vice President of Community Impact at Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, “and it’s proven an invaluable first step for communities who want to change the way they do business when it comes to serving their children’s needs.”
A starting point.
The goal of the service array assessment process is to identify problems in the current structure, and point the way to a collaborative plan that will solve those problems effectively. The service array is simply a tool for deeper, actionable plans that will be developed over the next few years.
And those plans will ensure that everyone at the table has the same goal: creating better outcomes for Norfolk’s at-risk children and families.
“This is something we definitely needed in our Norfolk community,” said Stacy Anderson, Associate Director of the Norfolk Family YMCA about the service array process. “Just to all come together is great . . . sometimes we don’t realize the needs that aren’t being met because we get so into our own zones.”
The benefit of silos
Those “zones” that Stacy talks about may cause problems in communication and coordination, but in the service array process, they can mean expertise and depth of knowledge. Each person at the table concentrates their time and effort on one piece of the service puzzle. Bringing those experts together in one room is a powerful recipe for thoughtful and intensive conversation and planning.
“I’m here with a bunch of experts in their fields,” said Mark Stortvedt of Oasis Counseling International. “Together, we’re forming a service array that will help us do better for children.”
As the process moves forward, the challenges identified by the service array assessment will help breakdown the silos, allowing each organization to put their expertise toward a common goal. With funding, facilitation, planning support, technical assistance and coordination from Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, Norfolk’s committed citizens are making a change