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The Linkages Project
       
 

Linkages, originally known as the CalWORKS/Child Welfare Partnership Project directed by the California Center for Research on Women and Families (CCRWF) from 2000 to 2005, is a continuation of the 2006/2011Federal Demonstration Grant known as the CalWORKs and Child Welfare Collaboration to Improve Outcomes for Children. Currently, the Linkages Project is continuing through a grant from the California Department of Social Services, Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP). Since 2005 it has continuously been a project of the Child and Family Policy Institute of California (CFPIC)

The groundwork laid by the original Partnership included surveys to counties to gain information on their existing efforts to coordinate work between child welfare and the public assistance program. This effort was followed by a facilitated workgroup process that engaged over fifty county and state leaders working together to develop recommendations in six areas: Organizational Structures, Flexible Financing, Organizational Change and Training Data Systems, Confidentiality, and Coordinated Case Planning. The products of these workgroups became the foundation for the work that followed, which included the development of a Linkages Planning Guide. This original work was funded by the Stuart Foundation and can be found at http://CCRWF.org.

In 2006 the California Department of Social Services in partnership with the County Welfare Directors and the Child and Family Policy Institute of California responded to a Federal Demonstration Grant and as a result received a five-year grant to allow the state to expand and evaluate this collaborative practice. The federal grant allowed for expansion from the original 17 counties to over 30 California counties. Support to counties included: semi-annual convenings, monthly newsletters, monthly conference calls, and a dedicated intranet site for peer sharing opportunities. This grant allowed for the development of communications material including two videos and other marketing resources that were intended to support sustainability of Linkages at the practice level in the participating counties. A culminating product under this grant was the development of a web-based Linkages Toolkit that provide guidance in seven areas: Definitional, Assessment & Planning, Training, Evaluation, Communication, Fiscal, Sustainability and can be found at http://www.cfpic.org/toolkit/.

Harder + Co provided the evaluation for the Federal Demonstration Grant through a longitudinal prospective study using surveys with county staff, case studies in three counties, and analyses of secondary indicator data collected by Linkages counties. Some of the key findings were: Eighty-three per cent (83%) of the counties indicated that sharing resources is a key component and seventy per cent (70%) report that two case plans are generally created between Welfare to Work and Child Welfare however services and timelines are coordinated to support the family. Factors related to successful implementation are: strong Leadership supporting Linkages, a workplace culture that supports innovation, and clear communication between CalWORKs and Child Welfare. Key trends from the outcome data suggest that Linkages helps families avoid recurrence of maltreatment and Linkages families had fewer recurrence at the three month time period than non-Linkages families. Additionally, another trend indicates that Linkages families have more success resolving CalWORKs sanctions than non-Linkages families. Read full report.

The Linkages Project will continue to support Linkages counties engaged in deepening and expanding the CalWORKs and Child Welfare collaboration practice in their county by utilizing the Linkages Toolkit and providing Peer Shared Learning Opportunities via monthly Webinars, Annual convening, quarterly newsletters, and individual technical assistance at the county's request.