Ensuring effective and efficient communication across agencies and systems

Children and Family Futures (CFF) provides training and technical assistance to cross-systems partnerships to develop policies and procedures for cross-systems information sharing and effective communication. Effective and efficient communication systems are needed for day-to-day case decisions and at agency and systems levels to ensure data-driven decision making for quality assurance and program improvements. Our areas of expertise related to information sharing include: 

  • National policy and regulation on data sharing for substance use disorder and mental health treatment (e.g., Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [HIPPA] and 42 CFR Part 2)
  • Effective and efficient information sharing and communication policies and protocols
  • Communication pathways and information exchange at the practice level to measure and track family members’ progress in meeting goals
  • Administrative-level data sharing agreements and data management to monitor the overall outcomes and success of the program and to make adjustments to program operations
  • More effective linkages among federal, tribal, state, and county administrative data systems

The evidence is clear that no single agency independently has the resources or information needed to ensure child safety, family well-being, and recovery from substance use disorders. Families need services from multiple agencies, thus systems of care must work together and effectively communicate across agencies boundaries. Efficient communication among these agencies is needed to ensure safety for children and parents by sharing information about their service needs, utilization, and outcomes.  Information sharing is the basis for tracking progress toward joint goals and ensuring accountability within multi-system collaboration. Establishing information sharing agreements between agencies ensures that communication is timely, accurate, and complies with confidentiality requirements. Through linking administrative data sets, cross-systems partners can match parents in treatment with children involved with child welfare services, allowing them to jointly monitor families’ progress and monitor collaborative outcomes. 


CFF has disseminated nearly 2,700 materials related to information and data systems since 2016
CFF has responded to over 600 technical assistance requests about information and data systems since 2016


Through federally- and foundation-funded projects, Children and Family Futures and its small business subsidiary, Center for Children and Family Futures, produces publications, reports, Technical Assistance tools and web-based learning for the field. The following are featured resources from our work. For more resources or information related to a specific topic, please visit our resources page or click the “Request Assistance” button below or at the top of the page.