Every public agency has an obligation to educate proactively its stakeholders and the children, youth and families served about its role in the community and its responsibilities. An agency should be open, accessible and inclusive and operate as transparently as the law will allow. Effective communications helps build relationships and greater confidence in the agency. Trust and involvement of all segments of the community, in turn, support the agency to meet its mission.
A master communications plan details the techniques and processes Communications employs to convey key messages – aligned with agency mission, vision and values – to all public child welfare audiences and the greater community. The communications plan identifies, based on goals articulated in the agency strategic plan, the messages to be developed, the key audiences who need to hear those messages and the communications channels, approaches and venues that will be employed to reach those audiences.
This section serves as a guide to effective internal and external communications methodologies used to reach audiences, in formal and informal ways. It summarizes specific approaches and tools necessary to communicate well with youth and families and with stakeholders of the agency including: staff, media, foster and adoptive parents, elected officials and policy makers, courts, allied professionals and contracted providers. It also discusses overarching communicative approaches that reach multiple publics including the general public. Whether an agency will employ a particular methodology depends entirely on what approaches are outlined in the agency master communications plan. This section summarizes the many types of approaches that potentially could be used. The agency master communications plan will dictate the specifics of how the key audiences identified in the communications plan are to be reached.