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The Policy Evaluation and Research Linkage Initiative (PERLI) is a four-year project funded by the National Science Foundation that will establish powerful new datasets of linked administrative microdata from California state and local government sources. One of those datasets is the Life Course Dataset.

The Life Course data includes interactions between Sonoma County county agencies and county residents, aged 18 and over. The data is at the individual person level, and all datasets have a common identifier that allows for linking the datasets at the person level. This data primarily includes records on treatments for behavioral health needs, enrollments in social safety net programs like food stamps, stays in housing for the homeless, and interactions with the criminal justice system. The data covers July 2013 to July 2021 and will facilitate research on complex, cross-domain issues such as poverty, homelessness, and mental illness, and inform more comprehensive policy solutions.

We are currently accepting data request applications for the Life Course data. Scroll down for details on the approval process and how to submit an application.

Data overview

Behavioral Health Data

This data contains records of mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) services administered by the county (available at the month level and at the service level). This data does not include emergency or inpatient mental health services. In the service-level data, each record represents a service provided to an individual client – data points include diagnosis, information on the service being provided, and billing details (insurance provider, amount billed, and more). Diagnoses are provided in International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) codes. We create aggregate diagnosis categories to capture common diagnoses. Importantly, diagnostic information is missing in 18% of the mental health records and 16% of SUD records data. Monthly datasets include the number of treatments received and the unique diagnoses treated in a given month, but exclude details such as the location and specific date of each service.

Social Safety Net

The Social Safety Net data tracks enrollment information for public assistance programs (available at the month level and at the service level). Programs tracked include Medi-Cal, CalFresh, General Assistance, CalWORKs, and other smaller programs. More limited information (such as report date, case closure date) is included regarding other programs, such as In Home Support Services (IHSS) and Adult Protective Services (APS). The enrollment level data includes details of the case (begin and end date, program(s) enrolled in, current status of the case) and information on case beneficiaries (mostly primary beneficiaries, though some cases also have details on secondary beneficiaries). Monthly aggregated data provides information on all programs enrolled in the month without case-level specifics.
Note: case allotment and individuals’ reported income data is also available for enrollees in the primary public assistance programs (such as Medi-Cal and CalFresh). These data are available at the individual case level, but are not available at the month level.

Criminal Justice

The criminal justice data includes interactions tracked by the county Sheriff, District Attorney, and Probation offices (available at the month level and at the interaction level). Interactions tracked include jail bookings, criminal charge filing, case dispositions, sentencing, and probation supervision grants. Monthly datasets provide aggregate information on the number of interactions and the most serious offenses recorded in each interaction category (e.g., most serious booked offense, most serious convicted offense).


The housing data captures housing program enrollments, including emergency shelters, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, and more (available at the month level and at the enrollment level). The data captures all records in HMIS of an enrollment into (and subsequent exit from) any housing program in Sonoma County. There are also other non-housing programs that are recorded in this data, such as some legal aid services. This data contains only the program name and entry and exit dates. Monthly datasets include all programs enrolled in during the month, without the specific program names or entry and exit dates.


The person-level demographics file includes individuals’ race, ethnicity, gender, age, and residence.

How to access the Life Course data

We are currently accepting data request applications for the Life Course data.

Apply Now

Applications will be reviewed at the end of each quarter. Deadlines are 12pm on the following dates.

  • January 14th
  • March 31st
  • July 1st
  • September 30th

Applications will undergo a two-stage review process: following an internal review, California Policy Lab will then present data requests and project proposals to Sonoma County, who will have final approval. Following the application deadline, applicants can expect to be notified of an outcome within eight weeks.

If you have any questions about the dataset or the application process, please reach out to To stay connected about PERLI, please subscribe to our updates list.

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