Newsletter -- Ninth Edition
Convening Special Edition
September 16, 2015

2015 Convening Underway

Two years ago we held our first all-site convening. We were reviewing the themes from 2013 and reflecting on where we were that fall -- just pre-implementation newbies. We are not exactly veterans now, more like adolescents, going into our third year of implementation. No longer crawling through the basics, we are running with our models.
As you read this, we are meeting in Washington DC for our 2015 convening. We will be here through Friday. We have co-developed a thought-provoking agenda with the demonstration sites, the Children’s Bureau, the Urban Institute and our foundation partners. There will be close to forty representatives from the sites and we have invited over a dozen leaders in policy, practice and philanthropy to join us in discussions that will push us to think in new and creative ways about how to engage new partners and sustain the models we have put into place.
Back in 2013, the theme of the convening was celebration and inspiration. Sites got their first chance to share with one another. The philosophical divide between the child welfare system and supportive housing was raised, specifically around Housing First. Two years later, we are still grappling with some challenges but making notable progress. Over 250 families have been housed not because they were “ready” i.e., sober, reunified, employed, but because housing and child welfare systems alike are recognizing that in order to achieve family stability, reunification and improvement in child and parent well-being, the most vulnerable families need the platform of housing to meet their goals.
At the 2015 convening, sites will have the chance to continue to engage and educate government agencies, legislative staff, other professionals and advocates about what we need to be successful and sustain this important work.

Recently confirmed Commissioner Rafael J. Lopez, of the US Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF), will speak at the convening today. Commissioner Lopez was confirmed on August 5, 2015 as Commissioner of ACYF after having been formally nominated by President Obama in January 2015. Commissioner Lopez was most recently a Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Prior to that role, Commissioner Lopez served as the Associate Director for Talent and Leadership Development at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The Child Welfare and Supportive Housing Resource Center, the demonstration sites, and our partners are honored to host and welcome Commissioner Lopez (pictured below).



Other Presenters throughout the three-day convening:
Debra Lancaster, Director of Strategic Development, New Jersey Department of Children and Families
Ann Oliva, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs, Acting Director, Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development
Jasmine Hayes, Policy Director, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
Becky Primeaux, Director of the Housing Voucher Management and Operations Division Public and Indian Housing, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Paul DiLorenzo, Senior Director for Strategic Consulting
Casey Family Programs
Pete Earley, Author and CSH Board Member
Michael Pergamit, Senior Fellow, Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population, Urban Institute
Marti Burt, Marla MacDaniel, Maeve Gearing, Urban Insitute
Deb De Santis, President and CEO, CSH

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 in the Child Welfare System 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).

In early summer of 2015, ISHF convened the Connecticut Collaborative on Housing and Child Welfare (CCHCW), a new, cross-systems, statewide collaborative with strategic emphasis on building integrated systems to address family homelessness and improve child and family outcomes. The CCHCW, co-chaired by Kristina Stevens of the state Department of Children and Families (DCF) and Karin Motta of the state Department of Housing (DOH), represents a partnership between the ACYF Partnerships to Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Supportive Housing for Families in Child Welfare Systems and the Three Branch Institute on Child Social and Emotional Well-Being.
The meeting brought together advocates from Connecticut’s homeless assistance movement, members of the state judicial branch, the Office of Early Childhood, the state Department of Public Health, the state Department of Labor, and members of the ISHF team, among others.
Common themes from the discussion included the need for:
  • Program and research based data with effective dissemination of findings
  • Parent and family voice
  • Stabilization resources for families such as housing, economic security, and child development
  • Data sharing and data integration among state agencies
  • Analysis of service gaps
  • Prevention programming
  • Increased funding for housing and services from the state and federal government.
Recommendations for next steps included establishing three key workgroups that will make recommendations to the larger Three Branch Institute based on the discussion and the common areas of focus.

MSFI has recently undertaken a series of quality improvement steps with the purpose of reducing the number of families leaving the program and to increase the positive outcomes.  MSFI is bringing new partners to the table to coordinated services, support housing stability and increase access to child and family specific services in the community.
Earlier in August, MSFI also celebrated National Night Out with a block party at Estival Place that included food, a DJ, bouncy house, shaved ice treats, and information booths from local organizations offering programs for parents and teens.  The local police and fire department participated and there was a great turn out of children and teenagers from MSFI.

Image from MSFI National Night Out

The HEART Alliance supportive housing program is moving through CSH’s Supportive Housing Quality Certification. They have completed a pre-screen review, a written application, an in-person site visit that included focus groups with tenants, service partners, program and organizational leadership, as well as a review of pertinent program documents. CSH is currently piloting their Quality Certification designation for the top supportive housing projects in the nation and making final adjustments to the process. 
HEART recently moved 5 families into new housing (49 so far), meaning they are only one family away from reaching the total of 50 families intended to participate in HEART.
HEART Alliance and Healthy Start have created a HEART specific Mommy and Me group that will provide pre and post-natal support for several of the HEART families that are expecting new additions to their families.
The HEART team is also preparing for several fall events including a Dress for Success fashion show and their 2nd Moving On and Moving Up Celebration that will coincide with the 50th family joining HEART.
PUSH-CR recently completed the development of a Progress Management Index (PMI). The PMI is used to help Service Coordinators, families and collaborative project staff objectively measure and manage progress relative to each family outcome domain on an ongoing basis. The original version of the tool was pilot tested by the local evaluator from the University of Iowa and revisions were made as a result of the March 2015 pilot findings. In addition to the two core assessments (NCFAS-R and CANS-T or ASQ) PUSH has been employing since the beginning of the demonstration, Service Coordinators have used the PMI since July 1, 2015.
Specifically, the PMI is used as a guide to help determine the readiness of a family to step down to a lower level of service coordination or conversely up to a higher level when needs dictate; to assess readiness for service coordination to end altogether; and to continually reassess the services/supports that each family receives to ensure their success in all areas at the end of service coordination or when the grant ends. The PMI consists of 40 items organized under 7 domains: housing; employment, financial stability; parent health; child well-being/functioning; family functioning; child welfare involvement; and community supports.  The Service Coordinator assesses each of the 40 items and assigns a PMI score from 0-3 (from in crisis to at or near self-sufficiency).The resulting total score provides guidance as to the degree of progress the family is achieving.  Data will be compiled from individual family assessments to allow reporting on family level status and the benefits and challenges with using this progress management tool.


Families Moving Forward (FMF) recently broke a barrier involving data sharing between the San Francisco Human Services Agency (HSA) and the Department of Public Health (DPH). Because DPH data contains Protected Health Information classified as such under HIPPA, it has been difficult to find ways to share data about children common to both systems. This is true even though FMF has had official buy-in from agency leadership since the grant began. Lack of data sharing meant unwieldy, inefficient, and delayed communication about children in the project and contributed to a lack of timely completion of mental health screenings.
As of mid-August, FMF has been able to share data about project families between the two agencies using an Excel document stored securely in the Cloud (MS Outlook One Drive) that permits users to live-edit. The purpose of the document is to track enrollments into the demonstration, help trigger their Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) screenings, and measure how long it takes to complete the screenings. It took some time to get the proper approvals from the agencies’ IT departments and privacy officers, but FMF expects this small step to yield improved interagency communication and service delivery to project families.
According to Jennifer Haight, FMF’s local evaluator from Chapin Hall, “This is a significant step in the process of assessing and connecting children to the services that they need in San Francisco and is a direct result of the demonstration. It’s not the last step for sure to ensuring that children have timely assessments and are efficiently matched to appropriate services – but nonetheless – it is pretty important to getting there- and to documenting our getting there.”

Our Supporters Help Propel Our Progress
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children, & Families (ACF), Administration on Children Youth and Families (ACYF), 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 ACYF, and the generosity of our funders.

Demonstration Dashboard from Urban Institute

PUSH - CR Honored in Iowa
Partners United for Supportive Housing - Cedar Rapids (PUSH-CR), Four Oaks was recently honored with an Innovation Award by the Iowa Finance Authority at the 2015 IowaHousing Conference. The happy recipients representing PUSH-CR are pictured below as they receive their award.




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