Jump-Starting Collaboration: The ABCD Initiative and the Provision of Child Development Services through Medicaid and Collaborators
Many policy problems require governmental leaders to forge vast networks beyond their own hierarchical institutions. This essay explores the challenges of implementation in a networked institutional setting and incentives to induce coordination between agencies and promote quality implementation. It describes the national evaluation of the Assuring Better Child Health and Development program, a state-based program intended to increase and enhance the delivery of child development services for low-income children through the health care sector, using Medicaid as its primary vehicle. Using qualitative evaluation methods, the authors found that all states implemented programs that addressed their stated goals and made changes in Medicaid policies, regulations, or reimbursement mechanisms. The program catalyzed interagency cooperation and coordination. The authors conclude that even a modest level of external support and technical assistance can stimulate significant programmatic change and interorganizational linkages within public agencies to enhance provision of child development services.