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.

What is Linkages?

Linkages is the term used by participating California counties to describe the working partnership between CalWORKs and Child Welfare that happens when families are receiving CalWORKs and Child Welfare services at the same time. Linkages case coordination practice has the goal of helping families build financial self-sufficiency and economic mobility while promoting child safety, permanency, and well-being.

Linkages practice allows county agencies to work together with families via coordinated case planning to develop a single case plan and reduce barriers for accessing services and resolving challenges. It also leverages resources from both CalWORKs and Child Welfare to improve outcomes for children, youth, and families.

The Linkages partnership addresses the specific needs of children living in poverty and the recognition that even though poverty does not cause child maltreatment, children living in poverty experience more child maltreatment than other children. Linkages increases effectiveness of services through concurrent provision of concrete supports to address poverty directly.  We know that providing income support to families reduces the risk of maltreatment and simultaneously increases each family’s capacity to benefit from strengthening services.

Beyond providing best practice support for individual families, Linkages and the coordinated effort to address poverty while building protective capacities supports California’s goals to reduce disproportionate involvement of Black, Indigenous and People of Color in the child welfare system. Ultimately, the Child Welfare and CalWORKs partnership will improve outcomes for children and families, reduce entries into foster care, and reduce disparity and disproportionality in California’s foster care system.

What is Linkages 2.0?

For over 20 years, county CalWORKs and Child Welfare teams have worked together (with support from CDSS and CFPIC for 9 of those years) to develop, test, implement, and share best practices for collaborating with mutually served families.  Starting in January 2022, in conjunction with the Office of Child Abuse Prevention’s Framework for Preventing Child Abuse by the Promotion of Healthy Families and Communities, counties kicked off a new Linkages era with Linkages 2.0 and CFPIC was once again funded to provide support to California counties for implementing or expanding their Linkages practice.

Linkages 2.0 focuses on a continuum of approaches to coordination embraced by counties across California, including collaborative prevention and early intervention strategies between CalWORKs, Child Welfare, and community partners to promote family and community strengthening activities, support healthy families, and prevent child removal.

With Linkages 2.0, our goals are:

  • Build on the past successes of Linkages counties by spreading best practices for coordination to more counties within California,
  • Identify ways to provide primary and secondary prevention services through the Linkages partnership,
  • Evaluate Linkages to build a body of evidence in support of the great work happening in counties.

Our vision for the future of Linkages is that every family applying for CalWORKs will have access to services to meet their needs, that Child Welfare agencies and other family serving partners will know how to help families with resources to help prevent Child Welfare intervention when possible, and families will receive coordinated case management and services from CalWORKs and Child Welfare when mutually served.

How are we evaluating Linkages?

To identify and spread promising practices we are in the process of evaluating the current Linkages program with three Linkages counties. We will be analyzing administrative data and collecting qualitative survey data from families and practitioners to identify scalable successes at the local level, find solutions for systemic barriers, and make recommendations for improving and growing the CalWORKs Child Welfare collaboration in support of spreading Linkages practice.

What are Linkages Toolkits?

Linkages Toolkits provide information and resources for counties seeking to build or improve Linkages practice.  These tested resources come from peer counties who share their work in support of Linkages practice across the state.

Click on the tabs below to learn more!


  • Planning and Implementation: Tools to support work plans, policy development, and implementation activities
  • Communication: Tools for sharing information about Linkages
  • Training (under construction): Recorded webinars, TA/peer sharing notes, and curriculum resources on a variety of Linkages topics including Coordinated Case Planning, Linkages and Emergency Response
  • Prevention and Early Intervention Strategies: Tools to connect your Linkages program to prevention and early intervention activities
  • Tertiary Prevention Strategies: Tools to support your work with mutual families including policy samples and forms
  • Evaluation: Tools to support evaluation efforts