What is Linkages?

Linkages is a collaboration between CalWORKs and Child Welfare that creates a continuum of services and supports to promote child and family well-being.

The Evolution of Linkages

Beginning in 1997, with the passage of federal TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) legislation, California began exploring how to support families served by both systems, with the vision that poverty is a risk factor for child abuse and neglect and recognizing that children in families with incomes below $15,000 were twenty-two times more likely to experience maltreatment than those with incomes over $30,000.

Over the next two decades over 30 California counties, in partnership with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), developed policies, protocols, procedures and practices to build and strengthen this collaborative approach in several phases of statewide support.  This statewide support, which had been administered through the Child and Family Policy Institute of California (CFPIC) ended in 2016, after which a number of counties carried on independently to continue their Linkages collaborative work.

Over the course of the last two years, CDSS has been working to revive a statewide approach to Linkages in December 2019, the state sought support from the Center to help assess the current state of Linkages implementation and potentially revamp and promote the deeper implementation of Linkages going forward. In March 2020, the state convened a kick-off meeting which led to the formation of the Child Welfare-CalWORKS Coordination Workgroup, whose efforts have culminated in the re-establishment of state funding for Linkages. 

The current phase of Linkages officially began on 1/1/22 with a contract with CFPIC to oversee work to build on past work and institute a new framework for Linkages.  This new phase aligns with the Office of Child Abuse Prevention’s Framework for Preventing Child Abuse by the Promotion of Healthy Families and Communities, are characterized as Primary, Secondary and Tertiary interventions and represent a continuum of approaches to coordination embraced by counties across California.

You can click on the tabs below to learn more about the various resources that support Linkages planning and implementation (Linkages Toolkits) and to explore how Linkages fits into the current Primary/Secondary/Tertiary framework and find a growing library of examples of how Linkages is being carried out in various counties (Linkages in Action).