As background, a 2002 study published in the American Journal of Community Psychology found homelessness, rather than parental substance abuse or mental illness, to be the strongest predictor that children will be removed from their families and entered into the foster system. Research shows that such children often go on to lead deeply troubled lives and are at a higher risk for abuse, poverty, incarceration, suicide, and early death.
This new initiative is based on a successful pilot effort in New York City known as Keeping Families Together (KFT), which was funded by RWJF and implemented by the Corporation for Supportive Housing. The pilot paired supportive housing with on-site case management and a comprehensive array of services for families experiencing chronic homelessness, substance abuse and mental health problems, and child welfare involvement.
An evaluation of the pilot suggested that the KFT model:
Generated a remarkable 91% housing retention rate among its 29 participating families;
Helped close 61% of the child welfare cases open at the time of placement in supportive housing; and
Reunited with their families all six children placed in foster care who wanted to do so.