Lessons learned from Memorandums of Understanding
Under the Alliances project, Justice Alternative du Suroît (JAS), a community organization in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, started the process of drafting collaboration agreements in order to formalize the collaborations they tested in the field with both community and institutional partners. In addition, the YWCA Montreal created a referral protocol template with the help of a cross-sectoral committee as part of the Working Together Against Sexual Exploitation project. Thanks to these experiences, we can share a few recommendations to help simplify the process of drafting memorandums of understanding.
When the partners first meet, it is important to develop a clear understanding of the value of signing this type of
document. Furthermore, it is important to have a common language; that is, everyone should agree on the
definitions of the different concepts or terms to be included in the memorandum of understanding. For example, what is understood by sexual exploitation, memorandum of understanding, information sharing, professional secrecy, confidentiality, referrals, collaboration, etc. This exercise often leads to certain terms being modified or amended in order to use a common vocabulary that will allow the stakeholders to reach a consensus in the memorandum of understanding.
The exercise of creating definitions requires flexibility and an open mind in order to ensure that the statements are clear and transparent.
It is important to define the people or the positions in each organization or institution who are responsible for the agreement provisions, in order to guarantee that the different provisions are respected and carried out. It is also important to take the time to become familiar with the roles, mandates and organizational limitations (legal, financial, availabilities, expertise, etc.) of each of the partners involved.
The drafting of a memorandum of understanding can take some time. That is why it is important to remember the common objectives, in particular, those contributing to the well-being and safety of youth.
It is recommended that a clause be included in the case of litigation. This allows for a discussion of potential conflicts in order to foresee their occurrence and how to resolve them.
Once the agreement has been drafted, it is highly recommended that it be tested before signing it. This will allow stakeholders to make modifications based on the results of its practical application and to ensure that there are no other agreements that conflict with this one.
Main sections in a memorandum of understanding
- Identification of the stakeholders (names and addresses in full, designation of the signing authorities)
- Introductory statement (the respective mission of each of the stakeholders and an explanation of the context of the collaboration)
- The goal of the agreement
- The specific objects of the agreement (with the commitment of each of the stakeholders, common definitions, principles to be respected, approaches, measures, etc.)
- Duration of the agreement (date it comes into effect, duration, date or grounds for terminating the agreement, etc.)
- Renewal measures and evaluation of the agreement
- The commitment of the parties (responsibilities, roles, mandates, limitations, etc.)
- Appendices (all documents that provide more detailed information on the provisions)
- The signature of the stakeholders
Referral protocol template
The objective of the referral protocol template is to help employees in the education, community and institutional sectors prevent and/or identify possible cases of sexual exploitation, to initiate an intervention that respects the limitations of the sectors and its intervention workers, and make referrals to specialized resources. (link)