Interagency Collaboration: Beyond the Interagency Agreement

The foundation of early intervention is collaboration. The law mandates collaboration at the state, local and individual level. By recognizing that no single agency or professional can meet the needs of infants and toddlers and their families, the service delivery system accepted the challenge to collaborate.

Collaboration is defined as:

. . . a process to reach goals that cannot be achieved acting singly (or, at a minimum, cannot be reached as efficiently). As a process collaboration is a means to an end, not an end in itself. The desired end is more comprehensive and appropriate services for families that improve family outcomes. (Bruner 1991, 6)

In our day to day work we participate with a variety of other disciplines to create a team that supports and serves the family. It can be challenging to be a collaborative member of these teams. Each team member needs to be viewed as valuable, with important input towards the common goal. Only by improving our skills as collaborators can we achieve the goal of providing the best possible early intervention for families.


  • Avoid speaking negatively about other team members
  • Address issues by focusing on the best interest of the child/family
  • Mutual respect for all team members
  • Understand and respect each others agency constraints
  • Model the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration to the families


There is an ongoing need to provide training and support for professionals to function in a collaborative, interdisciplinary manner to meet the needs of families and young children.


The Handbook on Developing and Evaluating Interagency Collaboration in Early Childhood Special Education Programs was developed by the Special Education Division, California Department of Education. It was edited by Edward O’Malley, CDE Press, working in cooperation with Terence Williams, Consultant, Special Education Division, and was prepared for printing by the staff of CDE Press under the direction of Anne Jackson. The cover and interior design were created and prepared by Cheryl McDonald, and typesetting was done by Jeannette Reyes. This handbook was published by the Department, 1430 N Street, Sacramento, CA 95814-5901, and distributed under the provisions of the Library Distribution Act and Government Code Section 11096.

© 2007 by the California Department of Education All rights reserved