This toolkit helps counties design and implement a Benefit Access strategy to better meet the basic needs of underserved families.


What is Benefit Access?

Benefit Access is “a collaboration among human services agencies to ensure that families and young adults at risk of maltreatment or poverty have access to and engagement in all public social services to support their basic needsʺ. Benefit Access strategies on the county level help families access the concrete services and supports essential to lift them out of poverty and reduce safety risk for their children. By linking these vulnerable families to the practical resources to which they are entitled, their chances for success are improved.

These concrete resources can help address a wide array of needs–from accessing emergency financial, food or energy assistance to securing affordable housing. By closing the gap in meeting families’ basic needs, Benefit Access strategies provide a key way to expand the reach of Linkages.


Why Benefit Access?

To date, Linkages has focused primarily on service coordination between Child Welfare Services and CalWORKS for mutual families. For these common clients, as well as other vulnerable families, hardships such as utility shut-offs, difficulty paying for housing, food insecurity and other economic stressors have been shown to increase instability. By expanding services through Benefit Access, the basic needs of these at-risk families can be better addressed, mitigating their risk for maltreatment and persistent poverty.


Planning a Benefit Access Strategy

Use the Benefit Access Road Map below to help your county match vulnerable families at risk of maltreatment or poverty with available resources. This Road Map guides the design process from screening to engagement to followup. Once these elements are in place, you’ll be ready to use the Implementation Planning Road Map to put your strategy into action.

Benefit Access Road Map


Human Services Benefits in California

Across the State, a wide range of human services benefits are available to any county serving vulnerable children and families. These services address many domains of need–from income support to child care to nutrition. Each county can maximize benefit access for their target populations by becoming aware of these statewide public benefits to meet basic needs and by developing strategies to integrate these services into their Linkages program. The Search Tool offers a way to find benefits according to criteria such as Need Area and Target Population.

Human Services Benefit Search Tool