Implementing a Network
Operationalizing an Implementation Plan may seem daunting. A comprehensive and deliberative approach to Network implementation should focus on five key operational areas.
Voices from the Networks
Networks can use a range of tools to facilitate implementation, ensure smooth roll out of services and efficient and sustainable operations. Key among these are:
Innovative use of technology can aid services. Considerations to ensure thoughtful use of technology in networked victim legal services include:
- The human component of services is important as not everyone has access to or capacity for technology
- Technology must be accessible (e.g., reading level of content – particularly legal information, disabilities, Internet and cell phone service in rural areas)
- Legal and ethical issues may be affected by technology (e.g., sharing information between legal and non-legal providers; providing remote legal services)
- Technology can streamline data collection processes among Partners and reduce duplication while still protecting client privacy
- An organizational skills and capacity review can inform what technology needs can be managed internally or externally and how technology will be sustained
Marketing should be ongoing to increase awareness of a Network and its services. Marketing efforts may include:
- Leveraging existing relationships and Stakeholders
- Cultivating relationships with local collaboratives, consortiums, work groups, professional groups and associations
- Using print and electronic marketing
- Using social media (e.g., blogs, websites, mass email)
Cross-training provides opportunities to leverage limited staff and resources to achieve Network goals. Cross-training can include:
- Formal onboarding of new staff and Network Partners
- Leveraging Partners as training subject matter experts
- Providing professional educational opportunities (e.g., CLE and CEU) to develop a pro bono network
Legal Case Management
Formal case management processes are necessary in any Network and should include:
Victim service professionals should familiarize themselves with the myriad of ethical questions, issues, and conflicts that may impact the effectiveness of holistic victim services, including technical considerations with remote representation and information sharing, mandatory reporting, and unbundled services just to name a few.
Intake processes should be designed and structured to streamline the process for victims and service providers while balancing and coordinating logistical, technical, legal and evaluation considerations and maintaining victim control over privacy. An Intake Checklist is a useful tool to clearly identify legal and non-legal needs, provide enough information to accurately assess potential clients, and facilitate smooth and accurate intra- and extra-Network referrals.
Efficient, accurate, and timely referrals require knowing other service providers’ capacities, scope of services, representation agreements, eligibility requirements, proximity to mass transit, case processing and closing processes and more. Written Network referral policies should be developed with broad input to inform how cases are balanced and prioritized between and among Partners, and provide for tracking of and processes for victims that have unmet needs.
A map or flowchart is a useful tool to visually represent a client’s interaction and flow through a Network and points when tasks should be completed, particularly when victims present with multiple legal needs that necessitate multiple attorneys (e.g., Will attorneys be co-counsel? Are common interests at stake that allow for privilege?). A useful flowchart reveals entry and exit points, who is responsible for tasks, when information releases and conflicts checks should be completed, and when and how information and data is collected and shared.
Victims can have myriad legal needs in the aftermath of crime, including civil litigation, victims’ rights enforcement in criminal law, family law, employment law, consumer law, immigration law and more. Some legal needs do not become apparent until well after the intake process is complete.
Combined with non-legal needs such as public benefits, housing, transportation, safety, and mental health, it is clear that legal advocacy requires collaboration, resource sharing, and specialized knowledge.
Evaluation should be guided by the same design and methodology considerations that informed the Needs and Capacities Assessment. In determining when, how often and from whom to collect data, the quantity of data collected should be balanced with data collection fatigue among those being asked to complete research instruments.
For an evaluation to inform Network services, a combination of outcome and output data should be collected and assessed, including:
- How a victim found/entered the Network
- Unduplicated totals for met and unmet legal and social service needs
- Intra and extra-network referrals
- Client outcome, such as increased feeling of safety and well-being, satisfaction with systems, empowerment, and goal(s) met
- Quality assurance data and process for handling good and bad feedback
- Documentation of declined cases to identify service gaps
- Barriers to accessing services
- Barriers to providers’ ability to provide services
Early, proactive planning of Network priorities and activities can positively impact the sustainability of a Network.
Policies, processes, procedures and best practices should be documented to allow for replication.
A phased roll out or soft launch allows for early identification of and response to issues, service gaps and barriers.
Technology ownership and design should prioritize longevity, leverage existing community resources, select user-friendly platforms, minimize resources needed for maintenance, and identify who is responsible for maintenance (funding, staff, hardware, and software).
Multiple funding streams should be leveraged to increase community knowledge and referrals into the Network.
Cultivate pro bono networks to strengthen relationships, increase capacity, and enhance referrals.
Marketing, outreach and branding will increase community awareness about the Network and its services.