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Human Service Delivery in a Multi-Tier System: The Subtleties of Collaboration among Partners

Published in JHHSA, Vol. 35 No. 1

This article examines the nature of interorganizational relationships that are formed within a multi-tier human service delivery system. Taking into account the hierarchical structure of a statewide initiative to support early childhood education, the study investigates the differences in the relationships between organizations at the service and administrative levels of the system. Forty-nine administrative level and 146 service delivery level relationships are evaluated. Findings indicate that organizations involved in direct service delivery form more collaborative relationships. Thus, when government provides funding for human services, policymakers must seek to balance public accountability with the advantages believed to be inherent in devolved service delivery. Furthermore, practitioners who appreciate the importance and nuances of interorganizational relationships will be in a position to better manage their organizations in an environment of increased collaborative activity and joint delivery of services. Going forward, human service systems will continue to involve organizations from the public, nonprofit, and private sector. A better understanding of how these organizations work together is crucial to the effective delivery of these essential services.

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