Several local and national initiatives are giving us hope that supportive housing achieves better outcomes for families involved with child welfare systems. Supportive housing not only increases families’ housing stability, but can improve outcomes in multiple domains such as education, employment and health care access. Families are strengthened with holistic, trauma-informed services focused on substance use, mental illness, parenting and other needs. The result is an end to the intergenerational cycle of child neglect and homelessness, and a new generation of young people living more stable, productive lives.
CSH believes supportive housing can change the trajectory for vulnerable families and developed the Keeping Families Together (KFT)* model to test if safe, affordable supportive housing addressing the needs of parents and their children would help them stay together and thrive.
Data from the KFT evaluation conducted by Metis Associates shows that supportive housing can stabilize vulnerable families so that they become safe and healthy environments for children. Child welfare involvement among KFT families declined significantly during this pilot and most families had no new abuse or neglect cases. Average school attendance improved steadily among KFT’s school-age children. A national demonstration effort led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) called “Partnerships to Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Supportive Housing for Families in the Child Welfare System”** is currently examining supportive housing for child welfare-involved families in California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, and Tennessee, where preliminary results are encouraging. Additional KFT-type initiatives not associated with this demonstration have begun in New Jersey, New Mexico, and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
*Generously supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
**Supported by vital assistance from ACYF, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and Casey Family Programs, this effort is overseen by CSH.