Wake Connections

Wake Connections is a coordinated intake and referral system that matches young children (prenatal-5) and their families in Wake County with home-based and group services that best fit their needs. Wake Connections includes 12 partner programs focused on areas including parenting skills, child development, pregnancy and postpartum support, school readiness, behavioral health and resource linkage. One online application allows a family to be screened for eligibility for multiple services and matched with the best fit program. The application is accessible via computer and mobile in English and Spanish. A bilingual system administrator processes referrals and provides consultation and user support.  System partners participate in a collaborative community of practice, including opportunities for networking and capacity building. The coordinated intake process helps maximize existing resources, avoid duplication of services, and identify service gaps to inform planning for the future.

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Fast Facts

Relevant Actions
State or Local? Local
Lead Agency Wake County Smart Start
Type of Agency


Racial Equity Lens
  • Project staff have participated in training on racial equity and are involved in planning of continued racial equity work within Wake County Smart Start.
  • Project staff collaborate with Wake County Smart Start’s Outreach Team to develop relationships with leaders in historically marginalized communities and incorporate their feedback in planning system outreach and engagement.
  • System efforts to promote equity for Spanish-speaking families, including a fully bilingual website and application, bilingual outreach materials, and bilingual/bicultural staff capacity for referral support and navigation.
Community Voice
  • Application includes questions designed to identify the best program fit based on family-identified priorities and needs.
  • Feedback survey sent to users gathers family input on experience with referral process and ease of use of website and application, which is used to guide future system planning and quality improvement work.
  • Project staff are engaged with Wake LICC in local implementation of strategies from Family Engagement & Leadership Local Plan.
  • In the last two fiscal years: 26 referring organizations, 40 programs, and 202 families have submitted applications for 929 families, including 1,076 children birth-5 and 470 prenatal/postpartum mothers, resulting in 909 direct referrals to home visiting/parenting education programs and 567 linkages to community resources outside the Wake Connections system.
  • The system has referred to 14 home visiting/parenting education programs.
  • The Community of Practice has 24 members. The Advisory Committee has met 6 times and Quality Improvement subcommittee has met 12 times, and Wake Connections has co-hosted 6 trainings/resource sharing events for members.
Next Steps
  • Plan and implement data collection to disaggregate system data by race and ethnicity and use this data to strengthen system improvement and racial equity work.
  • Expand opportunities for shared training and capacity-building for system partner program staff.
  • Implement quality improvement strategies to improve community understanding of the coordinated intake process among family and professional users. 


Primary Partners
  • Home visiting and parent education programs (See here)
  • Referral partners including health and human services, nonprofits, public schools, and early intervention
Primary Funders

Wake County Smart Start

Contact Caroline Janes

Active Counties