Partnership Basics

Advice from the field…experienced partners share lessons they have learned

Share A Vision

  • Establish a shared philosophy and mission — it provides a solid foundation for the partnership.
  • Return to your shared mission when you and your partner clash.
  • Identify and assert the benefits of the partnership for children and families, and for each partner.
  • Link the partnership to an overall commitment to and vision of Quality. Repeat this often.
  • Start small. Set realistic expectations for change. Remember that systemic change is a long-term process. Create opportunities to feel successful rather than to disappoint.


  • Create and sustain a spirit of openness, flexibility, and confidence about the partnership.
  • Decide how and when partners will communicate to exchange information, and to address partnership issues.
  • Communicate often.

Work At It

  • Commit thoroughly to all aspects of partnership: expectations, financial and legal requirements and standards, systems, resources, etc.
  • Educate all entities/parties about Federal, state, and local laws and regulations.
  • Build an atmosphere in which you can apply the partnership’s “lessons learned” to future work together.
  • Remember: Successful partnerships create mutual benefits, but they also require mutual compromise and sacrifice.

Clarify Expectations

  • Develop a detailed, written legal agreement with clear, measurable expectations tailored to your partnership’s specific needs. Borrow from others’ agreements but resist shortcuts and seek legal counsel in developing yours.
  • Put all expectations in writing — who does what, how does it happen, what are expected outcomes for all parties.

Reach Out

  • Reach out to the community to create more support for the partnership and to access additional resources.
  • Seek advice from specialists (legal and financial especially) associated with your program, and training and technical assistance resources as much as possible on all aspects of the partnership.
  • Articulate your partnership’s goals to federal and state officials.
  • Network with colleagues who have experience with similar partnerships.

Source: Website of QUILT (Quality in Linking Together, Early Education Partnerships):

Partnership Basics