Utilizing Participatory Action Research to Assess the Interagency Collaboration of a Community-Based After-School Program Partnership
The study utilized a community-based participatory action research (PAR) approach to assess the development of an interagency collaborative and its replication at other locations. The partnership formed to provide a service-learning site for university students as well as a community-based after-school program for children living in a low-income housing community. Research participants completed the levels of collaboration scale developed by Frey and Colleagues (2006) along with a questionnaire about their desired level of collaboration, current and needed resources, and knowledge of other partners’ goals. Collaboration is loosely defined as a group of partners working together to reach shared goals. The scale, questionnaire, and documents were triangulated to assess the overall collaboration of each partner both within and between groups. Results reveal that the overall level of collaboration for the partnership is closer to cooperation than coordination. For this partnership which was formed to provide service-learning opportunities to university students, community liaisons are at the center of communication. Faculty partners typically do not share information with each other because they respect and trust the abilities of their colleagues. Parents interviewed reported time and the demands of their own schoolwork as reasons they may not be able to get involved in after-school program events. In conclusion, partnership administrators should consider developing programs for parents that increase self-efficacy and time as well as formal protocols for sharing information among academics.