Community Linkages Overview

Services for people with IDD-MH have historically been siloed, and a central goal for START is to reduce this and promote cross-systems collaboration through linkages that occur locally, statewide, and nationally. 

Linkage Agreements

START programs develop Linkage Agreements with community partners. These agreements define partnerships and practices between community service providers to build a coordinated system of services for people with IDD-MH. START programs form linkage agreements with local entities with whom they collaborate to outline how they work together to best support individuals who are jointly served. As living documents, protocols to monitor and review linkage agreements enable continual renewal and adjustment as needs change.

Advisory Council

START programs convene an Advisory Council which serves as a community champion of the program. Members of the advisory council share their expertise by providing knowledge of constituent perspectives. Membership should be diverse and represent various stakeholders, e.g., providers, school systems, state and regional service monitoring representation, local universities, disability advocates, family members, and people who receive(d) IDD and mental health services.

Three A’s of Effectiveness Framework

START linkage agreements incorporate the Three A’s of Effectiveness Framework of Access, Appropriateness, and Accountability. These are the backbone of the linkage agreement process. To be effective, a linkage must contain all three components.

  1. Access: Does the linkage agreement promote access to the services offered by the partners involved? Does it increase the ease of access to services?
  2. Appropriateness: Are the services/agreements within the linkage appropriate? Do they fit with what is needed and wanted?
  3. Accountability: Is there clarity in roles and responsibilities? How do you problem solve and assess outcomes? Is it signed and sanctioned by all parties?

Using the 3 A’s of Effectiveness as a guide for the linkage agreement development process will help to facilitate collaborative partnerships and build capacity within the system and within the START team itself.