C. Agree on priorities

 Building Consensus

Bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders from organizations with different priorities, cultures, institutional responsibilities, and levels of resources can surface tensions that, if unchecked, may derail your initiative. There are a couple of methods that have shown to be successful in overcoming challenges to developing the necessary consensus for interagency collaboration.

Use scoping sessions for stakeholder engagement and consensus building:

Scoping sessions provide an opportunity for agency staff to discuss plans for information exchanges and provide feedback. They can be used to identify potential points of friction and shared priorities by providing a forum for the various stakeholders involved in an information-sharing initiative to discuss objectives, identify key concerns and barriers, and start to lay the framework for foundational documents that establish governance for an information sharing relationship.

Bringing together stakeholders in Hampden County:  In Hampden County, Massachusetts, the Association of State Correctional Administrators, and the Bureau of Justice Assistance conducted a series of “scoping sessions” as part of their Jail Reentry Information Sharing Pilot program. The Hampden County Sherriff’s Department invited 26 agencies and community providers to attend a two-day meeting to discuss the value of information exchanges between the county jail and public health community. JH Connect interviewed Bob May, from the IJIS Institute about his experiences working with stakeholders in Hampden County to design and implement information sharing as part of this initiative. Read the interview here.

Drafting project charters

Drafting a project charter is a useful process for determining stakeholders’ priorities for sharing information, documenting consensus, specifying goals and objectives of data sharing, mapping out the scope of the project, formalizing partnerships between justice and health organizations, and assigning responsibilities. Project charters are important to draft at the outset and can be adapted and modified as your interagency collaboration evolves. Furthermore, charters can set the stage for developing legal documents in the future, including memorandums of understanding, information-sharing agreements, and agency policies that codify information sharing arrangements.

Click here for a practice guide on drafting project charters

Using the Sequential Intercept Model

The National GAINS Center’s Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) provides a conceptual map of the points along the criminal justice continuum where there may be opportunities to link people with treatment services and share information. A number of jurisdictions have used the SIM as a framework for structuring meetings with stakeholders to build consensus and identify opportunities to increase collaboration between criminal justice and public health systems. Click on the links below to learn how two jurisdictions used SIM to foster collaboration between local health and justice agencies.

Alexandria, Virginia–Cross System Mapping: Transforming Services for Persons with Mental Illness in Contact with the Criminal Justice System

Pinellas County, Florida: Improving Services for Juveniles with Mental Illness in the Juvenile Justice System: A Strategic Planning Kickoff Meeting (2011)

Articulating Your Mission Statement  

At the end of the consensus-building process you should aim to have identified a group of potential partners who agree upon a clear, explicit mission statement that defines what your data-sharing arrangement will achieve. The mission statement is the starting point for working through the rest of the process, including assigning responsibilities, mapping out legal issues, and developing governance documents.