Feds and Foundations to Fund Supportive Housing for Homeless Families with Child Welfare Cases

The Administration for Children and Families announced a $35 million initiative, $10 million of which is private foundation funding, to replicate a New York City program aimed at stabilizing families in crisis through supportive housing.

The “Partnerships to Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Supportive Housing for Families in the Child Welfare System” initiative will provide five-year cooperative agreements between ACF and the winners who apply from non-profits, for profits and government agencies. Those agencies will be charged with establishing triage systems to screen and accept “reports received to determine which such reports require an intensive intervention due to severe housing issues,” according to the funding notice (FOA) issued this week by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, a division of ACF that focuses on child welfare and early childhood development.

“This initiative will help those working within child welfare systems and the supportive housing field to improve the functioning and social and emotional well-being of vulnerable children and families,” said ACYF Commissioner Bryan Samuels in a statement.

ACF will spend $25 million, given out in five-year cooperative agreements in five different communities. The money is drawn from discretionary funds appropriated under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, which was reauthorized in 2010.

Government, nonprofit and for-profit entities are all eligible to compete for the funding, and there is no cost-sharing or match requirement. The deadline to apply is July 30.

Four foundations have agreed to partner with ACF on the initiative, and will provide the following amounts to the project:

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF): $6 million

Casey Family Programs: $2.5 million

Annie E. Casey Foundation: $1.25 million

Edna McConnell Clark Foundation: $750,000.

The foundations’ role will be to assist public agencies or human services organizations that enter into cooperative agreements.

“Post-award, the consortium of foundations is offering opportunities for successful grantees to access technical assistance and to participate in further knowledge development in this area through additional evaluation,” according to the funding notice posted by ACF.

The venture seeks replication of a New York City pilot project called Keeping Families Together, which is operated by Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), a 20-year-old New York-based nonprofit that funds supportive housing projects around the country.

Keeping Families Together began in 2007. CSH recruited 29 families who had been homeless for at least a year and had an open child welfare case. The families moved into housing provided by six area nonprofits. CSH channeled money for job training, education and health services to the families through the housing provider partners.

An evaluation of Keeping Families Together found that of the 29 families moved into stable housing in 2007, 26 remained there in 2009. A comparison group of 15 families lived in shelters for an average of 15 months during that same time frame.

Families in the program experienced 46 abuse/neglect cases in the three years prior to their move to supportive housing, according to the evaluation. During the families’ residence, the number of cases decreased to 13. No children were removed from the home and only two ACS cases were reopened during the KFT pilot.”

Robert Wood Johnson funded CSH to establish Keeping Families Together as a pilot project, and recently provided the organization with funds to explore replication of it. Samuels visited CSH and some of the housing sites this year, and received a briefing on the pilot project evaluation findings.

How CSH factors into the ACF initiative is unclear at the moment. It could seek to assist the five winners, or it could compete to actually win one or more of the cooperative agreements.

“That is a choice our program officers will make,” said CSH Spokeswoman Susan Donley. “We don’t know yet what our formal role will be, if any. We hope to be involved in some way.”

Click here to read the entire funding notice.

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John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change
About John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change 1177 Articles
John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change. Reach him at jkelly@chronicleofsocialchange.org.