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Comprehensive Community Initiatives, Improving the lives of youth and families through systems change, a toolkit for federal managers
How the toolkit was created What is a CCI? CCI Tools for Federal Staff
How the toolkit was created
Over the past fifteen years, the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (CCJJDP) has seen the emergence of two major trends in Federal support for juvenile-justice and delinquency prevention programming.

First, Federal agencies have increasingly encouraged grantees to forge partnerships in the community among the multiple agencies serving youth and families. By funding and supporting Comprehensive Community Initiatives, Federal agencies make it possible for communities to move beyond fragmented service-delivery to undertake fundamental systems change. With this help, communities can form partnerships, engage in long-range comprehensive planning, pool resources, coordinate service delivery, and align the policies and procedures of multiple agencies.

Second, many Federal agencies have entered into partnerships within and across Federal departments in the belief that coordinated Federal action results in better service to localities. These partnerships make it possible to stretch scarce Federal resources and draw on the varied expertise of multiple Federal agencies. Partnerships also serve to model the teamwork expected of grantee organizations. A chart depicting the impetus for the toolkit and includes:  a growing interest in CCIs; the need for better supports; the expectations of grantees; more Federal agency partnering; and the desire to professionalize systems-change work

In the fall of 2006, the Council decided to consolidate what had been learned from selected, intensive efforts in both of these areas — how to support Comprehensive Community Initiatives, and how to forge and maintain Federal partnerships — and make this learning accessible to all Federal staff who fund and support programming for youth and families. In this way, the Council intends to professionalize the work of systems change.

The Council created a Federal Partnership Project and designated a sub-group of Council members to serve as a work team. After some deliberation, the team set out to create, publish, and disseminate a set of web-based tools for Federal staff who might want to develop and fund a CCI Project, perhaps in partnership with other Federal agencies.

What the toolkit is based on

Over the course of a year, the project team undertook four major activities to shape the Toolkit.

An inventory of CCI projects. Beginning with a list of more than 37 programs nominated by Council members and other Federal staff, the team winnowed the list to seven initiatives that met a set of Criteria for a CCI Project. The final CCI Project Inventory briefly describes each CCI Project's history, goals, target population, site locations, and how it met the criteria for a CCI Project. Using a similar process, the team also compiled an Inventory of Federal Partnerships using the team-developed criteria for a federal partnership.

A review of the literature. In parallel with the CCI Inventory, the team surveyed the literature relevant to CCIs and Federal Partnerships. To get the most comprehensive view possible, we explored a wide array of resources including academic journals, reports issued by think tanks and foundations, government documents, and evaluations of particular initiatives — as well as existing toolkits, guides, websites, and other resources that might be helpful to Federal staff. The resulting bibliography cites 85 sources. (See the Literature Review.)

Structured discussions with over forty individuals representing CCI project sites and Federal partnerships. Working from the Inventory, the team selected seven CCI project sites for closer study and six federal partnerships for closer study. The sites were chosen to represent a balance of urban vs. rural settings, established vs. newer initiatives, and thriving vs. struggling sites. A chart depicting what the toolkit is based on, including:  an inventory of CCIs, a review of the literature, structured discussions, a forum, and draft guidelines

For each site, the team conducted individual discussions with people representing four perspectives - those of a site manager, funder, technical-assistance provider, and evaluator. Most discussions were conducted by phone; two sites, both in the DC area, received in-person visits from a team member. Although the discussions covered a standard set of questions geared to the discussant's role in the initiative, team members were free to divert to other topics that seemed to shed light on the CCI's successes and challenges. (See the List of Discussants and Discussion Guides: providers, CCIs, funders) Discussions lasted from one to two hours.

Working from discussion notes, the team then analyzed the observations and ideas voiced by discussants - looking for common themes and concerns, as well as conflicting perspectives. From this analysis, we distilled an initial set of guidelines under four topic areas: Funding, Technical Assistance, Evaluation, and Federal Partnerships.

A one-day forum of CCI professionals. In July, 2008, the Council convened a Forum of approximately fifty professionals including funders, practitioners, and researchers engaged with CCIs and/or Federal partnerships. Working in small groups, participants reviewed the draft guidelines, made changes and additions, suggested questions that might be addressed in the toolkit, and recommended additional tools and resources. (See materials developed for the Forum: invitational letter, agenda, Power-Point presentation, and list of participants.) This gathering also provided an opportunity for participants to meet colleagues and join with them to reflect on CCI best practices and pitfalls.

Working from the Forum feedback, the team made substantial revisions to the guidelines and created a set of questions and answers to illuminate each guideline. On December 5, 2008, the final product was presented to the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

The future of the Toolkit

Every day, professionals involved with CCIs are learning more about what makes a CCI effective and how the Federal government can best support the work of systems change. Our goal is to make this Toolkit a living resource that reflects the current knowledge and wisdom of the field. For this we need your help.

Please write to us. Let us know how you've used this site, and give us your feedback on the guidelines, examples, and tools. We also welcome your suggestions for additional resources that address the guidelines and illustrate points in the questions and answers.