Newsletter -- Tenth Edition
2015 Convening Summary
November 12, 2015

Our Story - What The 2015 Convening Told Us

During our 2015 national convening, demonstration sites were asked to “tell their story” in creative and unconventional ways. Each site provided their unique perspectives on their mission. Importantly, every site incorporated the stories of the families they serve. Stories of struggle, recovery, family reunification, and their on-going journeys to attain the things we all seek -- healthy families, positive relationships and a sense contributing to their community.

Commissioner Rafael Lopez of the US Administration on Children, Youth and Families introduced himself to the group on Wednesday. He spoke about the importance of COURAGE to break down gate-keeping within ours and other systems in which we work. He also encouraged RISK-TAKING and BRAVELY talking about “lessons learning.” He told us not to wait until the end of the demonstration to share what we are finding because real-time learning can benefit all sites, other programs and impact decisions about program and policy at every level.


He also reminded us that we need to believe in our own success as well as the potential of every family to succeed. This is particularly true for case managers in supportive housing. They are the lynchpins for facilitating recovery among struggling families. 

The Commissioner’s themes carried through the entire convening with each and every member of site teams sharing challenges and insights café style.

Lessons Learning

Peer-to-peer conversations resulted in some common touchstones. For instance, child welfare systems are now thinking about housing before anything else where new tools are very literally putting homelessness and housing first when families come through the door in need of help. We heard there are now connections to housing for the child welfare system that have never existed before, and that families are more and more in the driver’s seat when it comes to case planning. Teams of providers are centered in a non-punitive way on what they want to see families achieve together. 

We learned that families, not artificial timelines, are driving services and assessment. We heard things like… “[We have] smaller caseloads with lots of weekly contact with families” and “[We have] re-worked partnerships to re-frame conversation and change business.”

The story of the demonstration that took shape during the convening suggests real progress resulting from collaborative work that is moving the needle in ways that are realizing the goals of family stability and reunification.

Thank You!

The Resource Center would like to thank Commissioner Lopez for his insights and support, and the demonstration sites
 for their commitment to ensuring the convening reflected their interests and concerns. In addition to co-developing the convening agenda with the Resource Center, the sites took the time to produce and present family stories, videos and presentations that reflected their dedication to the families they serve. Much from these materials will now be used by sites to reach out and make connections to other partners to continue and sustain the demonstration for years to come.

The Resource Center also would like to thank the other presenters who participated 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 Institute
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).

Connecticut’s ACYF team shared among peers their experience in implementing Intensive Supportive Housing for Families at this year’s grantee convening in Washington DC, providing an opportunity to reflect on how the project impacts the overall demonstration as well as share how the program contrasts with Connecticut’s long-standing supportive housing program for families involved in the child welfare system.
Connecticut’s Dept. of Children and Families has been providing supportive housing as a child welfare intervention for almost two decades, allowing the initiative’s partners to use the federal demonstration as an opportunity to test a more intensive model that targets the agency’s highest need families much earlier in their child welfare involvement. In Connecticut, the demonstration has also resulted in:
  • Early housing barrier screening incorporated into child welfare intake process
  • Enhanced engagement with families and providers
  • Increased empowerment and self-efficacy
  • Vocational and educational gains with parents and youth
  • Improved school retention rates
  • Shorter Program length of stay
  • Expansion to new region, with focus on state-wide implementation
  • Establishment of the CT Collaborative for Housing and Child Welfare
These developments position Connecticut’s child welfare agency not only to target supportive housing to its highest need families, but also will inform a coherent, coordinated, statewide approach to homeless families that includes involvement from the state’s Continuums of Care and Office of Early Childhood.

In their presentation at the convening, MSFI highlighted a series of quality improvement steps they have taken with the goals of reducing the number of families leaving the program and increasing positive outcomes across the board.  MSFI focused on its achievements to date:
  • Infrastructure / Partnerships Created & Refined
  • Close Connection with CoC Established
  • CoC Renewable Grant Attained/Instituted
  • Coordinated Entry for Families Launched
  • Created & Cultivated Valued Partnership with Tennessee Department of Children Services
  • Mental Health Provider Available on Site

The HEART Alliance supportive housing program created buzz at the national convening with a video production that "Wowed" participants and capsulized their work and achievements under the demonstration. Watch the HEART video by clicking here.
Partners United for Supportive Housing Cedar Rapids (PUSH-CR) showcased their outcomes and sustainability plan at the All-Site convening.  PUSH-CR shared that 100% of families are contacted within one day of referral from the child welfare partner Iowa Department of Human Services. Program participants report high satisfaction with the program – with 87% of families reporting to be on track to meet their goal and 94% citing overall program satisfaction.  PUSH-CR’s vision for sustainability includes expansion.  The project lead agency, Four Oaks, plans to continue to serve additional families in Cedar Rapids as well as expand to additional communities in Iowa with a goal of enrolling 20 additional families in 2017 and 2018.  Four Oaks would also like to adapt the PUSH-CR model to other populations, including serving families with child welfare involvement who have children up to ages 18-21 or vulnerable families with housing instability whom are not child welfare involved.  Four Oaks plans to share lessons learned nationally and is hopeful components of their innovative supportive housing model can be replicated in communities across the country.


San Francisco presented their vision, their successes and their challenges during the interactive sustainability panel at the convening. The goal of Families Moving Forward is to use housing as a platform for stabilization, to create seamless coordinated service delivery among multiple public and non-profit agencies, and to decrease or remove barriers to housing for families. Their long term vision is that housing is available when families want for as long as they need.
San Francisco has done some amazing work to realize this vision, focusing on a cross-systems team-based approach. For example, they assess all families who come to the attention of child welfare to determine whether or not they are homeless; they have successfully coordinated benefits eligibility; and have created a mechanism for automatically referring families for behavioral health screening. They also have extensive resources to house families including bridge subsidies and a steady supply of Family Unification Vouchers.
However, San Francisco remains challenged by the local housing market and although they have worked closely with the San Francisco Public Housing Authority (PHA) to relax eligibility criteria to the federal minimum, secure vouchers, and make special accommodation for Families Moving Forward families, neighboring counties are not currently part of the project and do not have the same understandings. During their presentation to the sustainability panel, FMF leadership requested support from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to support a regional approach to housing whereby PHAs in close range would explore various options to streamline the process of using housing vouchers across multiple housing authority jurisdictions.
Since the convening CSH has followed up with Anne Oliva, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs, Acting Director, Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, and she is committed to helping all sites. San Francisco is now working with their HUD Regional Administrator to help convene neighboring PHAs.

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.
Copyright © 2015 CSH, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences