Better Know a Network: Anne Arundel Partnership for Children, Youth and Families

Anne Arundel County Partnership for Children, Youth and Families was created by the State Legislature in 1993, under the direction of the Maryland Governor’s Office for Children. Each of the 24 counties in Maryland was assigned to assemble a collaborative board (Local Management Board) to manage the implementation of a local, interagency, community-based human service delivery system for children, youth, and families. The Partnership is the Local Management Board for Anne Arundel County. The agency receives local and state funding, as well as federal support through a variety of agencies in any given year, including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Office of Justice. While the Anne Arundel Partnership has various and wide-ranging goals, its broad mission is to improve the lives of low and low-income children, youth, and families. Since 2009, Dr. Pamela Brown has led the Partnership as the Executive Director. The Anne Arundel County Partnership adopted a collective impact model in 2015 and has been working directly with partner organizations to understand and apply the model in their community work. As a government agency, the Partnership does a lot of powerful policy work and advocacy. The Partnership prioritizes the collection, use, and sharing of data to identify and address significant gaps of care in their community. The Anne Arundel partnership has successfully brought together a diverse group of community members and stakeholders, ultimately building partnerships and developing solutions. 

In 2016, the Anne Arundel County Partnership created a 3-year Community Plan (FY2017-FY2020) focused on building on existing community-wide resources, established critical systemic and structural changes, as well as recognized the importance of every agency and every sector of their County in creating change. The plan set five priorities: focus on areas of greatest need and poverty, improve data collection and sharing, build connections and increase collaboration, meet the basic needs of the community, and strengthen systems of care. Informed by data and collaboration, the plan encouraged partners to implement the collective impact strategies and vision necessary to move children and families to self-sufficiency. This plan set out the steps and gave the tools for a productive three years. Lastly, in relation to partner assistance and collective impact, each year, the Partnership generates an informative collective impact diagram to be distributed to their partners, which assists in aligning the community care and increasing an understanding of the collective impact model. 

Recently, the Partnership organized a planning charrette with the community. Dr. Brown worked with the Anne Arundel County Executive and brought all of the County’s department heads – traffic engineers, planners, and utilities personnel- to come and listen to community members. Sixty-five community members attended the charrette, and they were paid $25 an hour for two hours of their time. At the charrette, there were discussions about built-environment issues, such as discontinuous sidewalks, parks, and other infrastructure issues. After an afternoon of conversation, collaboration, listening, and sharing, community members, were able to illustrate the barriers they face to those with resources and services. As a result of the charrette, the attendees were able to see the follow-through of the County in their use of money in their low-income neighborhood, which had been largely ignored in previous years. The gathering focused on tangible needs in the community and direct solutions to address them. This example perfectly exemplifies the action that the Anne Arundel Partnership takes in removing barriers to success and amplifying the voices of the lowest income residents in their County. 

Because the Partnership enacted a collective impact model within their diverse Partnership relatively recently, there is room and intention to continue evolving and growing. While data profoundly informs their work, and they are often releasing data to the community, the Partnership hopes to increase data sharing amongst community agencies and partner organizations. Along with the development of collective impact in their County, they hope to find ways to establish a shared set of metrics and outcomes with their partners. The Anne Arundel Partnership for Children, Youth, and Families is undoubtedly going to continue its great work.