Ensuring the Well-Being of Vulnerable Children and Families
ACYF is committed to facilitating healing and recovery, and promoting the social and emotional well-being of children who have experienced maltreatment, exposure to violence, and/or trauma. This FOA and other discretionary spending this fiscal year are designed to ensure that effective interventions are in place to build skills and capacities that contribute to the healthy, positive, and productive functioning of children and youth into adulthood.
Children who have experienced maltreatment, exposure to violence, and/or trauma are impacted along several domains, each of which must be addressed in order to foster social and emotional well-being and promote healthy, positive functioning:
- Understanding Experiences: A fundamental aspect of the human experience is the development of a world view through which one's experiences are understood. Whether that perspective is generally positive or negative impacts how experiences are interpreted and integrated. For example, one is more likely to approach a challenge as a surmountable, temporary obstacle if his or her frame includes a sense that "things will turn out alright." On the contrary, negative experiences can color how future experiences are understood. Ongoing experiences of abuse might lead children to believe they deserve to be maltreated and affect their ability to enter into and stay engaged in safe and healthy relationships. Interventions should seek to address how young people frame what has happened to them in the past and their beliefs about the future.
- Developmental Tasks: People grow physically and psychosocially along a fairly predictable course, encountering normal challenges and establishing competencies as they pass from one developmental stage to another. However, adverse events have a marked effect on the trajectory of normal social and emotional development, delaying the growth of certain capacities, and, in many cases, accelerating the maturation of others. Intervention strategies must be attuned to the developmental impact of negative experiences and address related strengths and deficits to ensure children and youth develop along a healthy trajectory.
- Coping Strategies: The methods that young people develop to manage challenges both large and small are learned in childhood, honed in adolescence, and practiced in adulthood. Those who have been presented with healthy stressors and opportunities to overcome them with appropriate encouragement and support are more likely to have an array of positive, productive coping strategies available to them as they go through life. For children who grow up in unsafe, unpredictable environments, the coping strategies that may have protected them in that context may not be appropriate for safer, more regulated situations. Interventions should help children and youth transform maladaptive coping methods into healthier, more productive strategies.
- Protective Factors: A wealth of research has demonstrated that the presence of certain contextual factors (e.g., supportive relatives, involvement in after-school activities) and characteristics (e.g., self-esteem, relationship skills) can moderate the impacts of past and future negative experiences. These protective factors are fundamental to resilience; building them is integral to successful intervention with children, youth, and families.
The skills and capacities in these areas support children and youth as challenges, risks, and opportunities arise. In particular, each domain impacts the capacity of young people to establish and maintain positive relationships with caring adults and supportive peers. The necessity of these relationships to social and emotional well-being and lifelong success in school, community, and at home cannot be overstated and should be integral to all interventions with vulnerable children and youth. Additionally, building these skills and capacities through the implementation of effective interventions will ready children, youth, and families for positive permanency outcomes.
An important component of promoting social and emotional well-being includes addressing the impact of trauma, which can have a profound effect on the overall functioning of children and youth. ACYF promotes a trauma-informed approach, which involves understanding and responding to the symptoms of chronic interpersonal trauma and traumatic stress across the domains outlined above, as well as the behavioral and mental health sequelae of trauma.
ACYF anticipates a continued focus on social and emotional well-being as a critical component of its overall mission to ensure the safety, permanency, and well-being of children.
It is the interest of this FOA and the Children’s Bureau to examine and further efforts of the child protective services system to reduce family separation due to a lack of adequate housing. The opportunity to promote coordination and collaboration to address the intersection of child welfare and supportive housing services is presented in the authorizing legislation. Detailed under section 105 (42 U.S.C. 5106), CAPTA authorizes grants to public and private agencies that demonstrate innovation in responding to reports of child abuse and neglect, including programs of collaborative partnerships between the State child protective services agency, and a myriad of partners to allow for the establishment of a triage system that:
- Accepts, screens, and assesses reports received to determine which such reports require an intensive intervention and which require voluntary referral to another agency, program, or project;
- Provides, either directly or through referral, a variety of community-linked services to assist families in preventing child abuse and neglect; and
- Provides further investigation and intensive intervention when the child’s safety is in jeopardy.
Partners listed in the legislation include community social service agencies and family support programs, developmental disability agencies, substance abuse treatment entities, health care entities, domestic violence prevention entities, mental health service entities, schools, churches and synagogues, and other community agencies. This FOA will carry out the triage language under CAPTA to serve a subset of families for whom the lack of adequate housing is a factor, in addition to other high service needs, in the imminent placement or placement of the child, or children, in out-of-home care. Community-linked services, as specified in CAPTA, will be provided to families through the local implementation of supportive housing services. Service models will integrate housing and critical community services to achieve the objectives of increasing safety, permanency, well-being, and positive family functioning.
Housing Instability and Child Protective Service Systems
Numerous studies show that inadequate housing increases the risk of entry into foster care, and delays in reunification of families from foster care with negative effects on children. Recent studies also suggest that recurrent shelter entries and longer stays in the shelter system are related to increased involvement in child welfare[i][i][ii][iii] [iv] [v] [vi]
The cycle linking homelessness and foster care often begins with homeless parents, usually single female-heads-of-households, who have experienced childhood sexual and physical abuse, and adulthood trauma. Homelessness becomes more likely as parents struggle to maintain their families while battling mental illness and substance abuse problems. Ultimately, homelessness, rather than parental substance abuse or mental illness, is the strongest predictor of child out-of-home placement.[vii] Experiences of maltreatment, homelessness, parental substance abuse or mental illness, and removal from parents, all threaten the healthy development and well-being of children. If these experiences can be prevented or their impact mitigated, it is possible to substantially improve outcomes for these children.
Families comprise the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, now accounting for more than one third of the overall group.[viii]The 2010 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) documented a 29 percent increase in sheltered family homelessness nationwide between 2007 and 2010. Currently, an estimated 168,000 families representing 567,000 persons in families are estimated to use an emergency shelter or a transitional housing program at some point during the year. The 2011 HUD Point-in-Time annual estimates of homelessness reported that of both sheltered and unsheltered homeless populations on a single night in January, persons in families made up an estimated 37 percent of the homeless population. Additionally, in 16 States, at least one in five homeless families was in an unsheltered location.[ix]
Experiences of maltreatment, homelessness, parental substance abuse or mental illness, and removal from parents, all threaten the healthy development and well-being of children. If these experiences can be prevented or their impact mitigated, it is possible to substantially improve outcomes for these children.
Recurrent shelter entries and longer stays in the shelter system are related to increased involvement in child welfare: 17 percent of children with one episode received child welfare services, compared with 22 percent of those with two episodes and 27 percent of those with three or more episodes. Of children with an average annual length of shelter stay of more than 90 days, 40 percent entered the child welfare system; whereas approximately 10 percent of those with the annual average length of shelter stay of less than 90 days did so.[x]
Household and parent functioning tend to be marked by instability among these homeless families. Homeless mothers demonstrate enduring patterns of conflict, trauma, and victimization, including exposure to domestic violence, community violence, and histories of childhood maltreatment. Two-thirds of homeless mothers report experiencing domestic violence, while one-third report active partner violence.[xi] Compared to other poor, but housed children, homeless children are more likely to: demonstrate higher anxiety, depression, and behavior problems; have poorer school attendance and achievement; and, have poorer health and more developmental delays.
As rates of family homelessness climb, overburdened social assistance systems, including child welfare and TANF, are expected to support an influx of families. As many as 71 percent of adults in homeless families have been found to not be working.[xii] Short-term educational and job training programs for homeless parents usually equip them only for low-skill jobs, which differ little from the positions that homeless parents held prior to becoming homeless.[xiii] These types of jobs seldom allow the parents to make qualitative changes in their lives. TANF programs can provide an array of non-recurrent, short-term benefits and services to help families that are homeless.[xiv]
Child welfare systems are challenged in responding to needs of homeless families. Child welfare caseworkers report spending significantly greater amounts of time and providing more service to inadequately housed families compared to other families in their caseload.[xv] Caseworkers also report a dearth of affordable housing. While families may be facing homelessness for the first time, many are caught in a cycle of poverty, mental illness, trauma, and substance abuse. Integrating child welfare, housing, along with other identified critical supportive services based on an assessment of the unique strengths and needs of each family, is critical to promoting positive outcomes for homeless parents and their children.
A recent study, using longitudinal data, looked at the impact of supportive housing services on homeless children’s well-being, including the number of children with child protection involvement, the number of child protection reports, and the number of accepted maltreatment reports. One key finding indicated that out-of-home placements decreased by approximately 50 percent over time for families receiving supportive housing, but increased by approximately 50 percent for comparison families.[xvi]
Potential for Cost Savings
It is the interest of the Children’s Bureau to examine innovative approaches to address the needs of families that come to the attention of child welfare system with multi-system involvement and potential for system-level cost savings. Supportive housing programs have been estimated to cost 70 percent less than out-of-home care, and it has been estimated that an average annual cost savings of $36 million per year per State may be possible if sufficient supportive housing were available.[xvii] This suggests that investment in housing stability may be a cost-saving strategy.[xviii]
Families who experience multiple episodes of homelessness and extended periods of homelessness (slightly more than one year) face complex barriers to housing by virtue of having substantial needs (i.e. history of involvement with the child welfare system, mental or behavioral health challenges, substance abuse challenges, etc). Prior studies have indicated that costs associated with the utilization of health, behavioral health, criminal justice, and child welfare services by homeless families decline substantially while a family remains homeless relative to the period prior to the onset of their homeless episode or the period subsequent to the family’s exit from homelessness.[xix] The estimated costs for these families range from $14,000-$21,000 one-year prior to the onset of homelessness; $20,000-$25,000 during the episode of homelessness; and $15,000-$20,000 one-year after their exit from homelessness. The earliest possible identification of at-risk families provides an opportunity to not only begin to work toward improved outcomes, but also to achieve substantial cost savings across public systems.
Collaboration between Child Welfare, Housing, and Community Service Systems
Federal efforts and research to date demonstrate that collaboration and coordination at the systems and practice level are critical in maintaining housing stability among families and promoting child welfare. In 2011 the U.S. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) commissioned a study of local programs that link human services and housing supports to prevent and end family homelessness. The study identified promising practices that facilitated the development, implementation, and sustainability of the programs. Promising practices largely focus on components of collaboration at the system and practice level such as using nontraditional community resources, developing lasting partnerships that lay a solid foundation for future partnerships, and standardizing processes and data-sharing to improve program operations.[xx]
Additionally, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness: Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness sets an agenda for addressing homelessness and stresses governmental collaboration at all levels. The plan encourages using programs targeted to homeless families and mainstream resources to help families achieve housing stability. The plan emphasizes the importance of mainstream housing and employment programs to assist families to achieve and maintain adequate and stable housing.
Federal and Local Supportive Housing Programs
Supportive housing is designed to promote the development of housing and supportive services to assist homeless persons in the transition from the streets and shelters to permanent housing and self-sufficiency.[xxi] Supportive housing models provide both subsidized housing and concrete and therapeutic services to meet the needs of families with complex needs. It includes single or multiple site independent housing paired with a range of supports and services that are community-based. Families receive supports needed to stabilize and remain in their homes. Services provided in supportive housing models vary but generally include physical and mental health, substance abuse, education, employment, and financial management services.
Activities in and lessons learned from established supportive housing programs provide important information about the level of innovation, creativity, and collaboration necessary to adequately serve this population and should be considered by the applicant:
- The Federal Collaborative Initiative to Help End Chronic Homelessness included new models of collaboration and redefined the role of various property management functions, including selection and training of property managers, daily communication of service teams, role of private landlords as natural supports, and joint problem solving to resolve housing problems. One of the most important lessons learned was the critical integration of property managers and housing specialists as joint members of the project teams.[xxii]
- Family Unification Program (FUP) provides housing choice vouchers (HCV) Section 8 to families for whom the lack of adequate housing is a primary factor in either the separation of children from their families or in the prevention of reunification. FUP vouchers played an important role in a recent demonstration project. Families involved with the child welfare system receiving FUP vouchers were found, at one-year follow-up, to demonstrate positive outcomes: 90 percent of families who were initially at risk of out-of-home placement remained intact 12- months later, 85 percent of families remained stably housed over the entire 12-month follow-up.[xxiii]
Examples of Child Welfare and Supportive Housing Collaborations
The State of Connecticut’s child welfare system confronted a housing instability problem and in 1998 the Department of Children and Families with the support of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services broadened referral criteria to its Supportive Housing for Families program to include families facing housing barriers to family unity or reunification. Families received intensive case management, access to scattered-site permanent housing, coordination of mental health and related interventions, housing assistance, and support for building connections in the community. Upon discharge from the program, 73 percent of participants successfully moved into permanent housing, and half were employed or receiving disability benefits at exit.[xxiv]
An initiative in New York City that combined supportive housing and children welfare services is the Keeping Families Together (KFT) pilot project. In 2007, the Corporation for Supportive Housing with support from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation launched KFT. Between August 2007 and June 2009, 29 families were identified and served in the project. The families all had significant, some intergenerational, histories of child welfare involvement, substance abuse or mental illness, social isolation, interpersonal violence and trauma. Each family had at least one open child welfare case at the start of the pilot. Sixty percent of the 105 children born to KFT families were not living with them: 40 percent were living in foster care and 22 percent had been adopted. After moving into supportive housing, all families received individual case management services from on-site social workers, as well as access to substance abuse treatment, medication management, parenting skills training, and other services as needed. Case managers met with each family at least twice a month to check in and monitor progress.
The initial evaluation of KFT included a process evaluation and an outcome evaluation. The process evaluation focused on partnership and implementation of activities provided to target families. The outcome evaluation examined the progress of participating families in achieving program outcomes, including housing stability, family reunification, health and mental health outcomes, and use of supportive services. The results of the evaluation are limited by a number of factors, most notably the small sample size. Nevertheless, KFT had a successful pilot. Positive findings were demonstrated in the areas of strengthening family functioning, stability, and self-sufficiency. Taken together, the evaluation results and the experiences of KFT families showed that the supportive housing pilot strengthened vulnerable families with highly complex needs while protecting their children.
Opportunities to Participate in Privately Funded Activities
A consortium of foundations is interested in this work, in alignment with the Federal Government, to improve collaborations across child welfare and housing at a community level as articulated under this FOA. 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, not required under this FOA.
NOTE: See Section IV. Application and Submission Information/The Project Description for additional instructions for applicants.
This initiative provides an opportunity for public child welfare agencies, local housing authorities, and family homeless or domestic violence shelters to introduce and implement supportive housing services for families who are served by those systems. Grantees are required to demonstrate innovation in responding to reports of child abuse and neglect through a partnership between the child protective services agency, local housing authority, community housing providers, and other critical service providers, as appropriate.
Projects must develop or support a triage system in the child protective service system that accepts, screens, and assesses reports received to determine which such reports require an intensive intervention due to severe housing issues. The triage procedures must include a comprehensive assessment of basic needs based on best practices in child welfare. Applicants should articulate how referrals of families will be received from the child welfare agency, homeless shelters serving families with children, and other relevant agencies that may serve the target population for this initiative.
The demonstration projects will build upon and adapt supportive housing services that provide a variety of community-linked services to focus on and achieve the objectives of increasing children’s safety and well-being, and positive family functioning. Projects will link child welfare, particularly related to services for the caregiver and trauma services for the children, and supportive housing and public housing will reinforce stability to meet the needs of families known to child welfare.
The remainder of this section defines project requirements for grantees in these areas:
- Target Population
- Provision of Housing
- Program Strategies and Activities
- Planning and Implementation Phases
- Project Sustainability Plan
Funded projects must serve a clearly defined, described, and justified target population(s) based on an analysis of local data. They must appropriately address the characteristics, needs, and experiences of the adults, children, youth, and other family members targeted, and the appropriateness of the proposed work for the target population. The target population must be limited to children, youth, and families known by the child welfare system for whom the lack of adequate housing is a factor, in addition to other high service needs, in the imminent placement or placement of the child, or children, in out-of-home care. Characteristics of appropriate target populations under this FOA include, but are not limited to:
- Reports to child protective services related to abuse and neglect;
- Exposure to prior traumas, including child abuse and domestic violence;
- Lack of financial resources and receiving or eligibility for public assistance;
- Children who exhibit severe emotional and/or behavioral problems;
- Repeated episodes of homelessness over time and/or long stays in shelters; and
- Parents with serious and chronic substance abuse, mental health, or physical health problems.
Although the characteristics above provide an approximate description of the range of challenges facing homeless families, they nonetheless underscore the fact that not all families will be appropriate target recipients for this pilot project. This points to the need for the collaboration between the project partners to focus on identifying those families who are most in need of and who would derive the most tangible benefit from receiving assistance provided by this pilot project (i.e., those families that present with multiple characteristics).
Families with multiple high-level needs, such as those outlined above, that are not met, typically consume a high rate of financial and programmatic resources from Federal, State, and local sources, in many social service systems. This project is intended to provide those families with a robust array of effective services as soon as they are identified to limit the costs of multiple system involvement. Projects will be built on collaborative partnerships and supportive services strategies based on the characteristics of the children and their parents targeted for services. Projects will collect and report detailed information about their screening and referral protocols and supportive housing services.
NOTE: See Section IV. Application and Submission Information/The Project Description/Approach for additional instructions for applicants regarding Target Population.
Grantees will use funds under this FOA to support an interdisciplinary team of professionals to work with families on-site in single-site supportive housing settings or make visits to the families’ homes to provide services in a scatter-site housing model, in which housing units are not located in one single location. At the systems level, required partners are the local public child welfare agency, local public housing authority or other housing agency, and at least one community family homeless or domestic violence shelter provider. The staffing of the interdisciplinary teams will be based on the systems-level partnership. Projects must demonstrate a plan to include critical service providers. Partners may include, but are not limited to, the behavioral health agency and the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) agency as part of the supportive housing structure. This collaborative will be a hub for negotiating interagency resources and trouble- shooting competing and inconsistent policies that impede families’ progress.
Project partners will bring experience and success in the following areas: 1) routine consultation and interaction with other agencies; 2) joint accountability and shared outcomes amongst agencies; 3) cross training and staff development; and 4) processes for communication and information sharing. Strategic partnerships will build on collaborative partners’ values and principles, and will have agreements about shared costs and budgets as they conduct collaborative efforts on behalf of children and families.
Other collaborating organizations may include, but are not limited to, Public and/or private housing agency(ies); local philanthropic partners; employment and education programs; substance abuse treatment, health, mental health, and child-serving agencies; family court and criminal justice system.
NOTE: See Section IV. Application and Submission Information/The Project Description/Approach for additional instructions for applicants regarding Collaboration.
Provision of Housing
Funded projects must secure affordable housing for at least 50 families as the platform for which the services will be provided for the target population. The housing resources may come from more than one source, including sources such as public housing authorities, Continuum of Care or other family homeless service providers, faith-based housing organizations, other State or local housing providers, or philanthropic partners.
All affordable housing provided in conjunction with these services must meet the following requirements:
- Families have leases, and rights and responsibilities of tenancy. Tenure in housing is not contingent upon families’ participation in services.
- Rent is adequately subsidized such that extremely low-income tenants pay no more than 30 percent of their gross monthly income for rent. Any housing source that allows renters to pay a higher percentage than this must be identified and explained in the application.
- The design, construction, physical integrity, and maintenance of the housing units provide an environment that is safe, sustainable, functional, appropriate for the surrounding community, and conducive to tenants’ stability.
NOTE: See Section IV. Application and Submission Information/The Project Description/Approach for additional instructions for applicants regarding Provision of Housing.
Program Strategies and Activities
Funded projects must provide specific services and activities that meet the intent of the funding. All grant recipients are required to select and report on performance indicators. When that time comes, grantees should carefully consider how their proposed program strategies and activities align with their selection of performance indicators. Services and activities that grantees are required to develop or integrate into existing triage service delivery systems include:
1. The establishment of interdisciplinary teams for case management:
Ensuring the safety, stability, and well-being of vulnerable children and families requires extensive practice knowledge and effective information sharing that is best accomplished through the development of interdisciplinary teams to work with families. The team is a source for information sharing, understanding, consultation, joint practice, and accountability. Interdisciplinary team staffing strategies must reflect the make-up of the systems-level partnership. The primary role of the team will be to:
- Establish a trusting relationship with families to promote child well-being and family stability while improving the capacity of caregivers to provide a safe and permanent home for their children.
- Work with the family to develop an integrated case plan that includes housing needs as well as other services needed by the family.
- Ensure housing retention and improve housing stability among families as a platform for ongoing engagement and family stability.
- Work with families to devise and implement a comprehensive, family-based program that focuses on child safety, positive family functioning, and wellness.
- Build a network of support within the program and among tenants that focuses on trust, well-being, and social/community integration.
- Advocate on behalf of parents and children to ensure that they understand the requirements of the social services in which they are engaged. Facilitate access to public benefits available to them. Staff will act as a liaison between parent and service provider when necessary while building the capacity of the caregiver and child to communicate effectively and advocate for them.
2. Services for parents and children that address family functioning:
- Parenting skills training to provide evidenced-based strategies to promote the parenting abilities of parents who are receiving in-home child welfare services, or whose children have been removed with goals of reunification. Examples include Celebrating Families and Strengthening Families, Nurturing Parent Program, Parents as Teachers, Triple P.
- Access to programs to address relational problems, and concerns including such programs as Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, Brief Strategic Family Therapy, Familias Unidas, Child Parent Psychotherapy, Functional Family Therapy.
- Services and interventions to improve family functioning and assist with reunification of families when children have been in out-of-home placements such as Multi-Systemic Family Therapy.
- Ancillary services for families to provide assistance in securing needed services such as safe and drug-free housing, transportation, and child care.
3. Services and activities for children and youth that address child well-being and trauma:
- Screening and assessment of child well-being. In infancy and early childhood this would reflect development in four general domains: 1) language development and communication; 2) Intellectual ability and cognitive functions; 3) physical development and motor skills; and 4) socio-emotional functioning. In middle childhood, well-being involves the assessment of socio-emotional functioning and general social competence, academic achievement, peer relationships and social skills, a developing sense of identity, and the nature of social support. In adolescents, emotional health, social adaptation, academic achievement, and preparation for adult roles and responsibilities are evaluated.
- Evidence-based, developmentally appropriate approaches to promoting child well-being. Approaches would be tailored to the specific needs of the child.
- Access to appropriate mental health services for children involved in the child welfare system, including services to address experiences of trauma. These might include evidence-based, trauma-focused interventions (i.e. trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy), psychological first aid and de-escalation, development of coping strategies, relaxation and self-control strategies, encouragement of expression of feelings, services that address relationship concerns, and other approaches.
Planning and Implementation Phases
This FOA allows for a 10-month planning and assessment phase (Phase I). During Phase I, grantees will build on their plan for completing Phase II that was clearly and concisely described in their applications, and their applications description of the preliminary plans and rationale for the installation and implementation of the supportive housing service model (Phase II). Note: see IV.2 Project Description, Approach for instructions for applicants.
Phase I Assessment and Planning Phase (Year 1)
Successful applicants will begin their 5-year cooperative agreements by engaging in intensive assessment and planning activities prior to implementing triage procedures and the supportive housing program. The purpose of this period is to:
- Establish collaborative partnerships necessary to guide and support successful program development and implementation, and finalize all partnership agreements;
- Further define the target population;
- Ensure the appropriateness of the selected supportive housing program model and trauma-focused service array for targeted children and their families;
- Implement plan to secure housing and perform readiness assessments of participating supportive housing providers;
- Ensure the fit of the supportive housing services for the existing service system and service array into which they will be introduced;
- Identify the existing supportive services and/or the funding streams that will be used to sustain service delivery during and after completion of the project;
- Assess the capacity and readiness of the child welfare system and its partnering agencies for the implementation of triage procedures and supportive housing services;
- Based on the results of the comprehensive set of assessments described above, grantees will develop and finalize sound plans for Phase II, including plans to: 1) prepare the child welfare system and housing agencies for implementation; 2) successfully adopt the triage procedures and supportive housing services; 3) rigorously evaluate the processes and outcomes of installation and implementation; 4) sustain the delivery of the supportive housing services using resources from available funding streams; and 5) disseminate lessons and findings to the field over the course of the project.
In order to successfully introduce supportive housing services into the existing service array, grantees must effectively collaborate with key partners and stakeholders. Grantees must also secure commitments, through third-party agreements with any agencies and organizations with whom they must partner to fund and deliver the new services. Partners and stakeholders that are critical to the success of the implementation will be engaged during this first phase of the project. During Phase I, the grantee will further refine the target population and examine the appropriateness of the selected supportive housing services for the parents and their children targeted for services. Based on the literature and a thorough review of its own data, the grantee will justify their proposed target population. The grantee will revisit the available research and evaluation evidence and consult with experts to strengthen its justification for selecting the particular supportive housing service array for the targeted children.
Grantees will collect data as part of their evaluation activities throughout Phase I, capturing the assessment and planning process, completion of key activities, and the evolving logic of their projects. Grantees will also be assessing how best to answer key evaluation questions, identifying data sources and instruments, collaborating with other grantees, choosing methods and indicators, and seeking necessary Institutional Review Board (IRB) approvals. During Phase I, grantees will submit a finalized implementation plan for CB review and approval by June 1, 2013.
Phase II: Implementation Phase (Years 2-5)
Upon completion of the Assessment and Planning Phase, each grantee will have developed a comprehensive implementation plan for implementing triage procedures and the supportive housing services during the 4-year implementation phase. Based on its in-depth assessments, the Phase II implementation plan will clearly articulate the grantee's rationale and provide a roadmap to follow as the grantee transitions resources to implement triage procedure, supportive housing services, customized case management, conduct the local evaluation, and disseminate the project's findings to the field. The implementation plan will serve as a work plan with key activities and milestones.
In years 2 through 5, the grantee will complete each component of its Phase II plan, which must include, at a minimum, the following:
- A detailed description of the core components model that is being implemented for the project. Projects should clearly articulate the specific strategies that will be utilized and which fully implements the model.
- Detailed implementation strategies, timelines, and milestones for roll-out of the supportive housing service program into routine service delivery, including plans for staging the transition from current practice across agencies and service providers; and methods for building practitioner competence in the models; and quality assurance.
- Complete local implementation of innovative supportive housing services that integrate community services for housing and other critical services for families who come to the attention of child protective services;
- Implementation of customized case management services for children and their parents and referrals to access additional services through community-based service providers;
- Implementation of a rigorous local evaluation plan (see the section below on Evaluation);
- Plans for information dissemination, including fostering and strengthening communication and coordination activities with other Federal grantees and with CB's Training and Technical Assistance (T/TA) Network, including CB's National Resource Centers, Implementation Centers, and Child Welfare Information Gateway.
NOTE: See Section IV. Application and Submission Information/The Project Description/Evaluation for additional instructions for applicants.
CB expects that projects funded under this FOA will build the evidence base for innovative interventions that will enhance well-being and improve outcomes for families who are at risk of separation and those who have been separated due to inadequate housing and other serious barriers to stability in the applicants' child welfare systems. Projects are required to engage with an evaluator in rigorous site-specific evaluations in order to improve their processes and services and to demonstrate linkages between proposed interventions and improved outcomes.
Funded projects will need systems for collecting, tracking, analyzing, and reporting data on clients/families served and on program activities and services provided, including any electronic systems for collecting this data. Data collected will support the grantee’s efforts for their own performance management and continuous quality improvement.
If the grantee does not have the in-house capacity to conduct an objective, comprehensive evaluation of the project, the grantee should contract with a third-party evaluator specializing in social science or evaluation, or a university or college, to conduct the evaluation. A grantee may choose an internal or external evaluator. The local evaluators experience, skills, knowledge, and approach will include:
- Understanding of the state and/or local level agencies that will be working together to support implementation of the supportive housing program. Local evaluators should demonstrate experience conducting systems-level research and an understanding of how to measure systems change and collaboration.
- Experience collecting and analyzing program and system-level data. Local evaluators will collect and analyze program and system-level data (for example, from administrative data sources and from interviews with program staff, partners, and policymakers).
- Expertise in evaluation design and methods. Local evaluators will participate in a year-long evaluation planning process and will help to shape the local and cross-site evaluation design. Local evaluators should demonstrate experience designing and conducting longitudinal research that is aligned with research questions and a program logic model/theory of change. Other important experiences to demonstrate include selecting measures, using existing data systems as a source of evaluation information, and collecting data that are reliable and valid.
- User-friendly, accessible reporting and communication with partners and stakeholders. The local evaluator must be able to communicate with and share information with varied audiences, including home visiting program staff, administrators, government agency staff members, and policymakers.
NOTE: See Section IV. Application and Submission Information/The Project Description/Evaluation for additional instructions for applicants.
Grantees will be expected to work throughout the course of their projects with Federal Project Officers, the CB T/TA Network, and other projects in this grant cluster to:
- Finalize individual grant dissemination goals, objectives, and strategic plan;
- Identify and engage with target audiences for dissemination;
- Produce detailed procedures, materials, and other products based on the program evaluation and the needs of identified target audiences;
- Develop and disseminate summarized/synthesized information about the project; and
- Evaluate their dissemination processes and outcomes.
NOTE: See Section IV. Application and Submission Information/The Project Description/Approach for additional instructions for applicants.
Project Sustainability Plan
ACYF is interested in ensuring that the most effective program strategies, services, and interventions can be sustained. Therefore, grant progress reports should explain ongoing efforts to assess and gather evidence on the particular strategies and activities initiated under this grant that should and can be sustained after the end of the project period. Funded projects will maintain the involvement of partners on an ongoing basis in the planning and operation of their program, and they will engage in sustainability planning in order to continue the proposed program at the conclusion of Federal funding.
NOTE: See Section IV. Application and Submission Information/The Project Description/Approach for additional instructions for applicants.
[i] Cowal, K., Shin, M., Weitzman, BC., Stojanovic, D., and Labay, L. (2002). Mother-child separations among homeless and housed families receiving public assistance in New York City. American Journal of Community Psychology. 30(5):711.
[ii] Rog, D.J., McC DJ; McCombs-Thornton, KL; Gilbert-Mongelli, AM; Brito, MC & Holupka, CS. (1995). Implementation of the homeless families program: 2. Characteristics, strengths, and needs of participant families. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 65(4):514.
[iii] Courtney, ME; McMurtry, SL & Zinn, A. (2004). Housing problems experienced by recipients of child welfare services. Child Welfare. 83(5):393.
[iv] Courtney, ME; McMurtry, SL & Zinn, A. (2004). Housing problems experienced by recipients of child welfare services. Child Welfare. 83(5):393.
[v] Rog, DJ; McCombs-Thornton, KL; Gilbert-Mongelli, AM; Brito, MC & Holupka, CS. (1995). Implementation of the homeless families program: 2. Characteristics, strengths, and needs of participant families. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 65(4):514.
[vi] Park, J.M., Metraux, S., Brodbar, G., Culhane, D.P. (2004). Child Welfare Involvement Among Children in Homeless Families. Child Welfare League of America. Vol. LXXXIII, #5, September/October. 423.
[vii] Cowal, K; Shin, M; Weitzman, BC; Stojanovic, D & Labay, L. (2002). Mother-child separations among homeless and housed families receiving public assistance in New York City. American Journal of Community Psychology. 30(5):711.
[viii] U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2010). The 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report. Washington, DC: Author.
[ix] U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), June 2011, 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR).
[x] Park, J.M., Metraux, S., Brodbar, G., Culhane, D.P. (2004). Child Welfare Involvement Among Children in Homeless Families. Child Welfare League of America. Vol. LXXXIII, #5, September/October. 423.
[xi] Rog, DJ; McCombs-Thornton, KL; Gilbert-Mongelli, AM; Brito, MC & Holupka, CS. (1995). Implementation of the homeless families program: 2. Characteristics, strengths, and needs of participant families. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 65(4):514.
[xii] Burt, M. et al. (1999). Americas Homeless II: Population and Services (Washington, DC: The Urban Institute).
[xiii] Wang, H. (2009). Horizons for Homeless Children: A comprehensive service model for homeless families. Journal of Children and Poverty. 15(1):55-62.
[xiv] HHS/HUD Joint Guidance on Preventing & Ending Homelessness date July 17, 2010.
[xv] Barth, R.P., Wildfire, Jl, & Green, R.L. (2006). Placement into foster care and the interplay of urbanicity, child behavior problems, and poverty. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 76, 358-366.
[xvi] Hong, S & Piescher, K.N. (2012) The role of supportive housing in homeless childrens well-being: an investigation of child welfare and educational outcomes. Issue Brief by Minnesota-Linking Information for Kids retrieved on January 27, 2012 from http://www.cehd.umn.edu/ssw/cascw/attributes/PDF/minnlink/Report_No11.pdf
[xvii] Harburger, D.S. & White, R.A. (2004). Reunifying families, cutting costs: Housing-child welfare partnership for permanent supportive housing. Child Welfare, 83, 493-508.
[xviii] Culhane, DP; Park, JM & Metreaux, S. (2011). The patterns and costs of services use among homeless families. Journal of Community Psychology. 39(7):815.
[xix] Culhane, DP; Park, JM & Metreaux, S. (2011). The patterns and costs of services use among homeless families. Journal of Community Psychology. 39(7):815.
[xx] Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Office of Human Services Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (November, 2011) Research Brief: Linking Human Services and Housing Supports to Address Family Homelessness: Promising Practices in the Field.
[xxi] Supportive Housing Desk Guide. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
[xxii]Kresky-Wolff, M., Larson, M.J., OBrien, R.W., & McGraw, S.A. (2010). Supportive Housing Approaches in the Collaborative Initiative to Help End Chronic Homelessness (CICH). The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 37:2, 213-225.
[xxiii] Fowler, P.J., Taylor, J.J., Rufa, A.K. (2011). Housing Services for Child Welfare-Involved Families: An Initial Evaluation Using Observational Data. Child Welfare. Vol. 90, No. 2. 107-126.
[xxiv] Farrel, A.F., Britner, P.A., Guzzardo, M., and Goodrich, S. (2010) Supportive housing for families in child welfare: Client characteristics and their outcomes at discharge. Children and Services Review. 32:145-154.