The ultimate goal of the TJC initiative is to build jail-to-community transition efforts that last. Sustainability employs formal and informal mechanisms to ensure the changes in policy, procedures, and outcomes achieved by the initiative are retained over time. It is never too early in your initiative to think about and plan for sustainability.
Planning for sustainability is an important part of the TJC initiative because political, organizational, and social change will occur over time and your goal is to make the TJC initiative part of your organization and community’s culture.
To a certain degree, sustainability planning has been built into the TJC initiative. The specific tasks outlined in the TJC Implementation Roadmap and the Triage Matrix help guarantee the buy-in and perceived value of the TJC initiative.
Nevertheless, achieving sustainability can be difficult. The community and its stakeholders must recognize that the TJC initiative has value and is financially self-sustaining.
Sustainability is multifaceted. It is more than just leveraging funds or resources to support programs or interventions. Rather, sustainability must occur at several levels of your initiative, including the system, partnership, agency, and program levels1.
Here, we briefly review tactics and mechanisms commonly used to facilitate sustainability.
Clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the partners and individuals your TJC initiative hopes to involve is essential. It provides stakeholders with clear “marching orders” and a sense of their role and purpose in the effort; this, in turn, facilitates their sustained involvement with and support of the initiative.
Stated more succinctly, individuals and the agencies they represent are more likely to engage in an effort when they have a clear understanding of its purpose and their role. In turn, clarifying roles and responsibilities, particularly decisionmaking authority, helps avoid the confusion and duplication of effort that often occurs when roles and responsibilities are ill-defined. Mechanisms include:
As discussed in Module 3: Collaborative Structure and Joint Ownership, different groups will be charged with different tasks and decisionmaking authority. The TJC governance structure reflects this. It generally consists of an executive-level group, an implementation group, and various work groups. Developing a basic organizational chart that depicts how these groups work together is key.
Determining the division of labor is important in each group. Begin by defining roles and responsibilities for each individual. Make sure to clarify what are individuals charged to do, by when, and to whom do they report? Likewise, decisionmaking authority must be defined so that all individuals in the initiative have a clear understanding of who is accountable for its success.
Formal partnership agreements are also recommended. Developed and executed formal memoranda of agreement (also called memoranda of understanding) with core partners help clarify responsibilities, manage expectations about agency and staff resources, and facilitate continued buy-in. Sample MOAs and MOUs are provided in Module 3.
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1 Blank, Martin J., A. Kwesi Rollins, and Carlo Ignacio. “Building Sustainability in Demonstration Projects for Children, Youth and Families” prepared for OJJDP. Washington, D.C.: Institution for Education Leadership (IEL), p.1.