This toolkit helps counties in their strategic and cost-effective delivery of services, permitting greater opportunity to leverage additional services with saved general funds.
Why Maximize Funds?
There was a time when county program managers and caseworkers paid little attention to fund sources when approving benefits and services for needy children and families. With authorization of the federally-limited Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant and tightening of federal rules involving use of CWS funds, particularly Title IV-E, managers and workers have increasingly needed to attend to the financial “bottom line” when determining costs of these service programs. Strategies to maximize limited fund sources for linkages clients, those eligible for CalWORKs and CWS programs, are now the norm. Poor decisions can duplicate services unnecessarily, create less than desirable cost-benefit and outcomes, and reduce county general funds hampering efforts to leverage other services.
Be Strategic About Funds
Providing coordinated services through Linkages allows counties to braid funding for mutual families with the possibility of expanding or extending services. Counties with Linkages have found it worthwhile to (1) establish an accounting structure invisible to the client but understood by the caseworkers and accounting staff, (2) understand sources of funding for families involved in more than one system, and (3) create strategic approaches to maximize limited fund sources while freeing county general funds where possible. While truly flexible funds are always the most desired, they are mostly limited and the first to be expended, leaving future service needs unfulfilled. At the opposite end, more plentiful categorical funds carry specific and sometimes rigid conditions for use. Therefore, a strategic approach to using all available fund sources is key to sustaining Linkages efforts toward improved outcomes for children and families.
Basics of Linkages Financing
The guidelines below provide advice and resources that may be helpful in maximizing funding opportunities and services for families in need or at risk. Resources include presentations by Linkages counties and the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), sample forms, CDSS issued fiscal letters and time study codes, and more.
Fiscal Training For Staff
A key fiscal strategy for Linkages is time studying to the TANF single allocation. The CDSS website contains useful information for counties seeking historical and current program, time study, and fiscal claiming instructions for all areas and programs under the purview of the Department, including CWS and TANF/CalWORKs. The UC Davis Extension Center for Human Services conducts periodic Fiscal Academies to provide training to county staff on various financing and claiming procedures that support the work of the various human services programs. The Academies are very informative and have produced valuable guidelines that are available on the Center’s website. There is a specific class called Fiscal Essentials for Children’s Services that may be helpful:
For additional state-level fiscal questions, feel free to contact CDSS’ Fiscal Unit by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org