Allied professions, both public and private, include other human services entities such as
behavioral health providers, schools, law enforcement and medical care professions. Since there is
an overlap with public child welfare in terms of population served, it is clear to see why
communications between and among allied professionals and the public child welfare system is so
important. In fact, many allied professionals are considered mandated reporters of child abuse and
neglect as a matter of law.
Targeted communications with allied professionals can assist with enhancing relationships and
facilitating greater understanding of the public child welfare agency’s mandated role as protector
of children, as well as the agency’s responsibilities, policies and practices. The development of
email distribution lists or offering of listserves will assist in sending targeted messages or
educational pieces about the agency (including an internal or external newsletter) to such
professionals. As previously stated, such messages should be sent judiciously and strategically so
as not to inundate the recipient. A change in the mandated reporter law, for instance, could be
accurately summarized on the agency web site, with applicable citations to the law and the link
emailed to allied professionals in addition to the agency’s own staff, provider network, media and
other relevant stakeholders.
Communications is often in a position to gauge “the correctness of the perception of the public” in
media pieces and correct the misperceptions of allied professionals. An agency, through
Communications, may consider reaching out to an allied group and building better lines of (cross)
education and communications if media accounts consistently suggest a disconnect exists. For
instance, police, uninformed about agency and/or court practices, may attribute a child’s return
home from shelter to an inadequate supply of foster homes and thereby provide inaccurate
information through the media to the public. Increased knowledge of operations often corrects such
potentially damaging perceptions.
Some public-serving organizations such as libraries can greatly assist in furthering the
disseminating capacity of agency information, publications and prevention messages. In addition,
they are often amenable to holding agency public meetings at their facilities.
Well-engaged allied professionals may also assist an agency in the throes of a media crisis by
either defending the agency or bringing a more reasonable discourse to the coverage. Even if no
defense is offered, such professionals are generally less ikely to
contribute to the media negativism by further criticizing a beleaguered agency if good lines of
communication already exist.