Inter-Agency Conflicts in Human Service Agencies

Collaboration among human service agencies is essential in ensuring they meet the needs of their clients. For example, interagency collaboration is associated with more proactive responses, better working environment for human service professionals, more holistic services, and higher likelihood of service continuity (Darlington, Feeney and Rixon 1086). Nevertheless, frequent interagency conflicts challenge effective collaboration among agencies. One of such conflicts arises from the diverse nature of professions that participate in rendering human services. As argued by Reitan (289) professions usually pursue independence and autonomy encouraging peer recognition and exclusive jurisdiction.

Since professionals working in human services provision may come from various backgrounds such as social work, psychology, nursing and related medical fields, conflicts may arise as to the profession that has the competence and capability to address a specific human service need. When such conflicts arise, instead of offering more service coverage, agencies engage in duplication of efforts and competition to lead initiatives that receive external funding. Other conflicts could arise out of the philosophical differences of agencies where, for instance, faith-based agencies may conflict with non-faith agencies on approaches to service delivery. Avoiding such conflicts requires a clear framework for collaboration where professionals from different backgrounds can share information to enhance their ability to meet clients’ needs.

Collaboration calls for alleviation of mistrust among professions via promotion of human service provision as a team effort and equipping professionals in areas of collaboration with adequate training. As an example, in a case where provision of mental health services to a parent may conflict with child protection services, as argued by Darlington et al. (1091), both groups of professionals would need relevant training on aspects falling under the other profession for effective service provision to the parent and the child. Further, ensuring integrity in the certification of professionals in respective professions may help to demystify perceptions of incompetency of other professions. On philosophical differences, encouraging a client centered approach that considers the client’s preferences would help avert conflicts that may arise.

Works Cited

Darlington, Yvonne, Judith A. Feeney and Kylie Rixon. “Interagency Collaboration between Child Protection and Mental Health Services: Practices, Attitudes, and Barriers. Child Abuse & Neglect 29 (2005): 1085-1098. Web. 31 August 2013.

Reiton, Therese C. “Theories of Interorganizational Relations in the Human Services.” Social Service Review 72.3 (1998): 285-309. Web. 31 August 2013.

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