Effective Referrals


Before making a referral, make sure that the caregiver understands and is ready to do something about the problem (mental health, child testing, seeing a pediatrician, domestic violence, substance use, housing, etc.), understands how the referral can help, and how they can get what they need.

Make sure that referrals are:

  • Personalized – Match what the caregiver needs with what the referral resource might be able to do
    (e.g. a mother's support group might be helpful for mom's that are feeling stressed and/or isolated)
  • Planned – Be as specific as possible about setting up a date and time and how to get there

Make sure that you:

  • Connect to the referral – Call ahead and prepare, go with them, find transportation, babysitting, etc.
  • Make a warm/hot handoff - the hotter the better. If possible, make the handoff as easy as possible and the connection as clear and personal as possible. So do not just give a list of possible referrals (cold handoff), offer a card with specific referral information (warmer). Better yet help negotiate the referral and make the connection with the referral resource (Hot).