The Family Support Initiative: Managing to Impact Change

Abstract

Jennifer Clancy, Project Director for the Child Justice Advocacy Center (CJAC) and protagonist of this case, implemented and supervises the Family Support Initiative (FSI) project. Externally, the FSI relies on authorizers and referral partners with widely varying interests to refer cases and cooperate in addressing the civil legal needs of families involved in the child welfare system. Internally, the FSI team intertwines a social worker, parent ally, and attorney not accustomed to cross-profession collaboration. As we meet Clancy, two social workers, two attorneys, and one parent ally have left the project in its short two-year history. Clancy faces the decision of whether to shut down the time-limited pilot or reengage stakeholders and modify aspects of governance and management to address deficiencies in communication and accountability that are impacting staff performance, engagement, and satisfaction.

The Family Support Initiative (FSI) case involves and explores challenges in managing people, including external stakeholders, network partners, and internal talent. This case illustrates the challenges in engaging and managing diverse groups of stakeholders toward a common goal as well as the impact that stakeholder relationships can have on internal talent leadership, engagement, and retention. It can be used in courses that address stakeholder identification and engagement, network management, and managing people. Learning objectives include analysis and coordination of stakeholder goals and interests, exploring external and internal communication and management in contracting relationships, and discussions of leadership authority and performance management in a network environment. It is useful to engage students in the use of stakeholder mapping tools and governance structure analysis. Students may explore and discuss how a manager’s aptitude for guiding external and internal visions, interests, and communication bears on involved partners and team members and contributes to overall initiative success or failure.

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