The Value of Community Partnerships

by Fabella Decema, Docs for Tots HMG-LI Family Resource Specialist

Partnerships are an important component of community advocacy efforts. There are so many reasons why community partnerships are effective. I would like to start with an African proverb:

“If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.”

It takes work, and it might take a while to develop, but strong partnerships build understanding and collective focus to making lasting progress.

At Help Me Grow – Long Island (HMG-LI), our system is built on partnerships. We have a leadership team from across Long Island with whom we collaborate, including The Child Care Councils of Nassau and Suffolk, Early Intervention, BOCES, and many more. We have an equal give and take relationship where they refer families to us, and vice versa.

For example, when families come to us with child care needs, we send the referral to our colleagues at either the Child Care Council of Nassau or the Child Care Council of Suffolk, depending on the family’s county. We email our colleagues in their respective Parent Services departments the reason for the referral, and give the parents the phone number to call as well. The staff at the Child Care Councils have been so patient and helpful to the families we have sent their way. They have also sent families to us that have concerns with child development, who we have assisted with getting an evaluation or connecting to other services.

We contribute ideas on how to help families get closer to solving some challenges in their lives. Let’s face it – we can’t solve 100% of their problems, but we can come together and tackle some of the issues that are in our capacity to fix.

There are certain key elements that I think effective partnerships should have:

  • aligned vision and leadership,
  • a shared framework for culture and values,
  • good communication,
  • defined roles and responsibilities.

I can speak for HMG-LI and say that we have a leadership team that embodies those qualities. We are forever grateful for the partnerships that we do have in our corner.


Fabella Decema works for Docs for Tots as a HMG-LI Family Resource Specialist, assisting families in English and Haitian-Creole.

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Investing in quality early learning programs is the most efficient way to affect school and life success and to reduce social expenditures later.

James Heckman, economist, Nobel laureate