Sustainability Lessons Learned

Over the years and as a result of their ongoing experiences with Linkages, the pioneer counties have amassed a great list of tips and advice for keeping Linkages going. Keep track of your own lessons learned for future updates to this site.

1. Make your leadership visible. Visible, active ongoing leadership at the administrative level of your county agency responsible for CalWORKs and Child Welfare Services conveys a long-term commitment to Linkages to both staff and partnering agencies.

2. Work together at all stages. At every opportunity, reinforce the Linkages philosophy of working together to serve families better to keep both CalWORKs and Child Welfare Services staff invested in the value of partnership.

3. Collaboration is key. Create strong ties between CalWORKs and Child Welfare Services through open channels of communication, joint policies and procedures, co-training, parallel or co-located positions to promote collaboration, and other strategies.

4. Everyone is in the loop. Keep key stakeholders involved during all developmental phases of Linkages (program design, implementation, enhancement and renewal), and at all levels (policy, operations, fiscal and oversight).

5. The Face of Linkages. The presence of a respected, influential “Linkages Champion” will allow for more consistent advocacy for the Linkages approach.

6. It's The Way of Business. Incorporate Linkages into the overall social services system in which your county operates, adopting it as a “Way of Business” instead of a separate or standalone program.

7. Team Members Who work together. A strong Linkages partnership requires staff who have skills to collaborate, understand each other’s programs and coordinate services on behalf of mutual families. Address training within a coordinated service environment as a continuous priority for both CalWORKs and Child Welfare staff.

8. Get the Data. Keep a strong focus on gathering evaluation data about the effectiveness of your Linkages program; using this data will be extremely useful toward maintaining or expanding your programming.

9. Be an Advocate for Linkages. Advocate for policy, funding and leadership support to sustain Linkages as a cost-effective, family-centered approach to achieving better outcomes for children and families.

10. Make Linkages a part of the programs. Integrate Linkages into program improvement plans and other strategic planning efforts to advance countywide goals such as increasing economic self-sufficiency, stabilizing families and sharing responsibility for child protection.