Magazine article Policy & Practice

Service Delivery Integration in Action: Dakota County

Magazine article Policy & Practice

Service Delivery Integration in Action: Dakota County

Article excerpt

Identifying the Opportunity

Back in 2011,1, Kelly Harder, director of Dakota County Community Services, had the opportunity to attend the Human Services Leadership Summit in Cambridge. The summit is facilitated by APHSA, the Leadership for a Networked World Program at Harvard University, and Accenture. As luck would have it, the summit agenda that year focused considerable time on the APHSA Human Services Value Curve and its key operational phases of regulative, collaborative, integrative, and generative. The Harvard discussion on the framework's theory and operational potential was both engaging and promising.

That said, as a "country boy" from Minnesota, I needed to get beyond trying to pronounce "regulative," and get back to the Midwest and figure out what to do with the framework's theoretical concepts. Following the summit, the more I processed the fundamental tenets that underlie the value curve, the more the framework started making sense. Right from the start, I saw the potential value of the tool in translating human service work to those within and outside our industry. As 2012 rolled around, work continued with APHSA's National Workgroup on Integration and within the local council of APHSA on translating the value curve into some sort of tangible operational matrix. In the end, staff did a stellar job identifying 11 key functional areas of an integrated service delivery system and juxtaposed them across the maturity levels of the Value Curve, establishing the Health and Human Services Integration Maturity Model.1 This work ultimately produced a framework to operationalize the integrated service delivery framework into practice.


When I first learned about the Human Services Value Curve Matrix, it was truly one of those professional "aha" moments. It was a bit like channeling John Nash in the movie, "A Beautiful Mind"; while the framework was still conceptual, I could envision the wholeness of it and its application. I shared the framework with Community Services Deputy Director Stephanie Radtke and together we started processing the use of this tool as an ongoing operational and strategic planning opportunity. It quickly became evident how well this tool offered context to our priority work of improving integration across the breadth of our departments-Public Health, Corrections, Social Services, Employment and Economic Assistance, and Veterans' Services. Yes, we were very interested and purposeful in wanting corrections to see the need for health care eligibility; and housing to understand our veterans' needs; public health to see their connection with women at our abuse shelters; the necessity for us to partner with non-profits, for-profits, and the faith-based community; and the list could go on and on.

In late 2012, we refined and packaged the "Dakota County Community Services Value Curve" concept and framework along with the great APHSA material, and proposed using this framework for our strategic planning to our department heads and broader divisional management team. The team committed to using the framework, and just needed to figure out the right application.

Strategic Planning, aka "Exercising the Muscle"


Early in 2013, the leadership team undertook the critical exercise of collectively completing the value curve benchmarking exercise across key functional areas throughout the division. At this point, we felt as if we had discovered a new intellectual muscle and began to actually put it into action via the benchmarking exercise. For us, this was the tipping point of moving from the academic and theoretical to practical application. Through benchmarking, we discovered clarity around our strengths and opportunity for growth as we move toward a more integrated and generative service delivery system. We embraced the results and took off full steam ahead into our strategic planning for calendar year (CY) 2014. …

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