Newsletter - Eighth Edition
July 16, 2015

We are Learning

This demonstration continues to present endless opportunities to learn. We are not only learning about how to identify and secure housing for families, but also about what kind of support services families need once housed.

We tend to talk about a “package” of services in supportive housing. But what’s in that package? Most would say it depends. However, if we are going to sustain our projects and embed supportive housing into our array of family services, it is important for us to define what we do so we can articulate what worked. We need to create a practice model so that those who come after us can implement and apply all of what we’ve learned to other high-need families in the future.

For instance, we know that as a demonstration we want to house families who may not otherwise be able to access housing because of behavioral health issues, criminal justice involvement, limited or no income, etc. But then what? How are they engaged? How do they remain housed through relapse or child removal?

Housing First, an approach initially designed for single chronically homeless adults. is now being applied to homeless families and youth. How does it work in a child welfare context? What about other evidence-based practices? Not many service interventions have been tested on families in supportive housing. What do we know anecdotally about how they are working? What kind of competencies do case managers need to have to do their work and facilitate good outcomes for families?

As we ask and answer questions, and learn, we must keep the challenges we face in mind. Here are some of the things we hear most supportive housing providers struggle with:

  • Relapse
  • Engagement
  • Child reunification
  • Safety
  • Failure to pay rent
In this issue of the Newsletter, we continue our exploration by providing some valuable resources that more fully explain Housing First..

We encourage you to join us in learning about Housing First and the strategies your colleagues are using to combat the struggles mentioned above - not just through research, but by trial and error, creativity, good social work skills and reliance on evidence-based practices.

The families we are helping today - and those years from now who turn to supportive housing - are depending on us answer the questions through this demonstration.

Housing First Resources/Evaluations

United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness

United Way Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley: Housing First for Families Initiative Year 3 Evaluation Report

Housing First Toolkit - Canada

Housing First - Government of Canada


U.S. Senator Grassley Visits PUSH-CR Demonstration Site

Four Oaks, along with its affiliates Jane Boyd Community House and the Affordable Housing Network, Inc., welcomed U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley to Cedar Rapids on Saturday, July 11.

During the visit, Senator Grassley learned about TotalChild, Four Oaks’ comprehensive and long-term approach for helping at-risk children and their families to achieve and maintain stability. The Senator also heard about Partners United for Supportive Housing in Cedar Rapids (PUSH-CR), the Iowa partnership that is part of our five-year federal demonstration grant utilizing community collaboration to assist families experiencing homelessness or housing crisis in combination with other risk factors. He heard directly from a PUSH-CR participant about how the program helped put her on a path to success.

Senator Grassley has helped to shape federal legislation for generations of vulnerable children and families, and is interested in witnessing progress and results with Iowa children. His visit included discussions with community leaders on what additional supports and reforms are needed to sustain these efforts, and encourage better methods to improve neighborhoods and the lives of children and families.

Updates from the Grantees

Five grantees representing over 65 public and private collaborations are part of the national Partnerships to Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Supportive Housing for Families with Child Welfare Involvement and are implementing family supportive housing in their communities. Behavioral health, public housing, family court, local child welfare agencies, homeless shelters and other service providers are working together across their systems, sharing resources and expertise with the goal of providing supportive housing to nearly 500 of our most vulnerable children and families by 2017.  Read here about their progress to date or visit the Child Welfare and Supportive Housing Resource Center online for more detailed information about the local demonstrations. The Resource Center provides expert technical assistance to the five sites and is a joint effort of CSH and the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP).
On July 1, Intensive Supportive Housing for Families (ISHF) expanded efforts under their demonstration initiative to cover the Hartford, Connecticut region.

Memphis Strong Families is making plans this summer to train staff in motivational interviewing. The program continues to hone their skills and emphasis on evidence-based Nurturing Parenting programs.

HEART recently worked with an expert-consultant and is focused on implementing Efforts to Outcomes (ETO), an internet-based case management database designed to measure program outcomes. ETO requires staff to link their interactions with participants to measurable program outcomes, with the goal of using data to improve quality in the field.

Cedar Rapids (PUSH-CR) also is using Efforts to Outcome (ETO) to maximize its impact on participants in its demonstration program, working with families to ensure they are receiving the assistance they need and meeting the planned results that allow them to progress, together, as a family.


In San Francisco, Families Moving Forward (FMF) is planning a convening with local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) to further the conversations around the demonstration and ways to help participants. They also are exploring how they can leverage "Housing First" to meet their goal to quickly house families.

One of our service providers in the demonstration recently said: “Our most helpful strategies have been bonding with the families and earning the trust of our families by advocating and assisting them with their barriers. Another huge strategy for us is our working so closely with the Department of Children’s Services (DCS). We have a liaison on site at DCS to help with the recruiting of families and keep DCS in the loop from the beginning. DCS also has a staff person on site at our office that helps us work closely with the families to ensure child welfare and safety. Even if a referral has to be made, we have such a good, open relationship with DCS, the outcomes can be positive and helpful for the family as opposed to resulting in loss of custody”

Our Supporters Help Propel Our Progress
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children, & Families (ACF), and four national foundations developed the $35 million public-private partnership designed to demonstrate the effectiveness and potential cost-savings of projects that link supportive housing and social services to strengthen fragile families and keep children out of the foster care system.  Collaborating  and funding foundations include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), Annie E. Casey Foundation, Casey Family Programs, and Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. This initiative is an outgrowth of the success of Keeping Families Together, which showed tremendous positive outcomes for families and cost-effectiveness for the public sector. To learn more about this exciting initiative, please click here.
The Child Welfare and Supportive Housing Resource Center is grateful for the continued interest of the ACF, and the generosity of our funders.

Newsletter Idea?
Do you have suggestions or submissions (photos welcomed) for our Newsletter? Please email them to CW&SHRC Newsletter Staff. Photos below courtesy of Strengthening Families Program (SFP), HEART, Broward County, Florida.


Additional Resources

Have you checked out Basecamp lately? It provides a space for grantees to connect, reflect and engage in online discussions that can help with implementation and learning across all sites. If you need a user name and password for Basecamp, please contact Sarah Morrison.

POV Documentaries with a point of view - TOUGH LOVE
What makes a good parent? How do you prove you are responsible after you've been deemed unfit? Having lost custody of their children to Child Protective Services, two parents — one in New York City and one in Seattle — fight to win back the trust of the courts and reunite their families in Stephanie Wang-Breal's moving film.
Access the story, film and other information at PBS.


US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Issues Rule to Promote Fair Housing. 
Last week, HUD released its final rule on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, which equips communities that receive HUD funding with the data and tools to help them meet long-standing fair housing obligations. This long-awaited final rule aims to provide all HUD grantees with clear guidelines, data and technical assistance to help them to achieve their goals. 


HUD Releases Family Options Rapid Re-Housing Study
A new study conducted by HUD and Vanderbilt University finds that housing choice vouchers provide homeless families with far greater stability than other forms of intervention. According to the short-term results of the Family Options Study, families offered a Housing Choice Voucher experienced significantly less homelessness and housing instability than families that received community-based rapid re-housing, project-based transitional housing, or usual care (defined as any housing or services that a family accesses in the absence of other interventions). The study, which took place in about a dozen cities, found that families with vouchers also experienced significant reductions in child separations from parents, adult psychological distress, domestic violence, school mobility, and food insecurity. Costs of the vouchers were also comparable to or less than the other interventions over the course of the follow-up period.


Rapid Re-housing: What the Research Says - Urban Institute
The Urban Institute also recently released a report on rapid re-housing. Drawing on program data and early findings from evaluations in progress, this brief describes rapid re-housing and lessons from its recent expansion. It finds that most of the evidence points toward rapid re-housing as successful in helping families exit homeless shelters. Rapid re-housing, does not, however, solve long-term housing affordability problems. Moving forward, policymakers need more research on the effectiveness and cost of rapid re-housing compared with other interventions offered by the homeless assistance system. Access Urban's report here.

Washington Families Fund (WFF) High Needs Family Study
Beginning in 2008, the WFF introduced the High‐Needs Family (HNF) program to provide more intensive housing and services than transitional housing programs can typically provide.  Five‐year WFF HNF grants were provided to 14 agencies in Washington State to provide housing services to families that had histories of chronic homelessness and at least two co‐occurring barriers, including serious and persistent mental illness, chemical dependency, domestic violence, trauma from violence, criminal histories, and/or Child Protective Services involvement. Thirteen of the agencies receiving HNF funds are participating in this five‐year evaluation. Here is the Year 5 Evaluation Report.


September Convening Fast Approaching

September 16-18, 2015 in Washington, DC

2015 Supportive Housing Demonstration Convening

The Child Welfare and Supportive Housing Resource Center will host a 2 1/2 day convening for our demonstration sites from September 16-18 in Washington, DC.

Through our partnership with the Children’s Bureau, each site is permitted use their travel budget designated for the Children’s Bureau annual convening for this meeting.

We are finalizing the agenda based on feedback from sites as well as the recognition we will be nearing the end of nearly two years of implementation by the time we meet in September. We know there will be a strong interest and emphasis on systems change and sustainability. In addition, there will be plenty of time for peer-peer learning among your colleagues, consultation on the national evaluation with the Urban Institute, and updates from the Children’s Bureau.

Please let Leah Rhea know if you have any concerns or questions at

We look forward to seeing you in DC.


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