In 2000, the Stuart Foundation funded a fact-finding mission to El Paso County, Colorado, to review an innovative approach to the coordination of TANF and Child Welfare Services. Representatives of the Foundation, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and a number of counties participated in that visit and were eager to learn about the possibilities presented by this unique approach.

Over the next two years, under the leadership of the California Center for Research on Women and Families (CCRWF), a large planning group identified the building blocks and tools that would guide counties in implementing California’s CalWORKs and Child Welfare Partnership, which is now called Linkages. In 2002, thirteen counties began the implementation of Linkages and in 2005 a second phase of counties began their implementation. WIth receipt of a Federal Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2006 and the addition of a third cohort of counties, by 2011 Linkages was established in 28 California counties.

Where Linkages is today in California could not have been possible without the visionary leaders who took a simple idea and guided it to become a reality in more than half of all counties thoughout the state.

  • Beginning with Pat Reynolds-Hubbard, former Program Officer at the Stuart Foundation, who sparked the interest of California stakeholders in this innovation and Teri Kook, current Program Officer, who provided steadfast financial and professional support during the initial years.
  • Under the leadership of Kate Karpilow, Executive Director of CCRWF, and her team, the pioneer counties forged a Linkages model and developed a foundational Planning Guide upon which this Toolkit has been built.
  • With the assistance of the HHS grant, Stuart Oppenheim, Executive Director of the Child and Family Policy Institute of California (CFPIC) and Danna Fabella, Project Director were able to broaden the reach of Linkages to more counties. This phase has included ongoing evaluation of the initiative, where we’ve learned that planned, strategic service coordination between CalWORKs and Child Welfare Services results in better outcomes for vulnerable children and families invovled in both programs.

All along the way, the dedicated work of the counites despite shrinking budgets, growing caseloads and the demands of other initiatives has never waivered. The consistent support from CDSS, the Resource Center for Family-Focused Practice, the Zellerbach Foundation and the Regional Training Academies has been greatly appreciated.

Finally, each phase has been supported by subject matter experts who have provided strategic consultation, technical assistance, evaluation and training–but most importantly, have cheered on the work of the Linkages counties. A special thanks goes to:

  • Leslie Ann Hay of Hay Consulting for numerous contributions to model development, implementation, strategic consultation and technical assistance
  • Paul Harder and Katherine Lee of Harder + Co Community Research for evaluation and technical assistance
  • Jill Duerr Berrick, PhD for evaluation and research expertise in poverty and maltreatment