Movements to create collaborations often don’t consider that the issue at hand can be addressed by existing groups. The examples in this article from the Forum for Youth Investment show how policies can encourage the use of existing collaborations.

Have you ever felt collaboration fatigue?

We understand. When an issue emerges involving children and youth, policy leaders often respond by creating a task force or collaboration to address it. The intention is good and the action is logical, because children and youth issues cannot usually be addressed by just one institution or government agency.

But let’s admit it: In some places, the explosion of task forces, partnerships and councils has gone too far. Many states and communities now sport a multitude of collaboratives working on overlapping youth issues, from bullying to pregnancy to dropouts. It’s no wonder that at the Forum for Youth Investment, we often hear this lament from state and local policy makers:

“I used to have to attend meetings with 17 different departments; now I have to participate in 17 different coalitions.”

Having too many uncoordinated collaborations isn’t just burdensome to the stakeholders who go to all those meetings; it’s inefficient and ineffective. We routinely find multiple collaboratives duplicating each other’s efforts and not sharing each other’s work. Sometimes, they even work on the same issues in isolation from each other.

For example: In one state, we identified several collaboratives addressing childhood obesity – separately. One intergovernmental collaborative worked within public agencies to identify all the funds that could be used to address obesity, then built its own advisory group of local stakeholders. Meanwhile, the education sector held a series of public discussions on child nutrition and physical activity. Yet another group, led by the public