Securing and maintaining safe and stable housing can be challenging for families and youth involved with the child welfare system. Unstable or inadequate housing increases the risk of children entering foster care and can delay reunification—even when housing was not the reason for out-of-home placement. In addition to the physical dangers posed by unsafe or unstable living conditions, the resulting stress on caregivers can exacerbate these less-than-favorable conditions. In this section, find information and resources on housing issues and programs for families and youth receiving child welfare services. State and local examples are included.
Addressing Housing Instability in Child Welfare (CSH)
U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (2019)
Identifies strategies and programs through the Family First Prevention Services Act to support housing stability for child welfare-involved families, including policy, legislation, budget, and appropriations reforms that can be made at the State and local levels.
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Download (PDF - 318KB)
Families at the Nexus of Housing and Child Welfare (PDF - 230 KB)
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
Summarizes what is currently known about the relationship between housing and child welfare, describes ways child welfare agencies are addressing the housing needs of families, and explores the use of housing interventions to reduce child welfare involvement among families that are homeless. The report concludes with a discussion of implications for policy, practice, and future research.
Helping Families Involved in the Child Welfare System Achieve Housing Stability (PDF - 1,055 KB)
Cunningham, Pergamit, Baum, & Luna (2015)
Examine the impact and the cost of the Family Unification Program in addressing inadequate housing linked to child maltreatment. The report concludes with promising practices and implementation challenges.
Housing's Critical Connection to Child Welfare [Podcast]
Child Welfare Information Gateway (2019)
Episode 29: Housing's Critical Connection to Child Welfare – Part 1
Focuses on how child welfare and housing specialists identify families and work in tandem to navigate the housing system and complete their child welfare case plans.
Episode 32: Housing's Critical Connection to Child Welfare – Part 2
Discusses how to create effective working relationships, share decisions, and partner with local housing authorities.
What Do We Know About the Impact of Homelessness and Housing Instability on Child Welfare-Involved Families?
Casey Family Programs (2019)
Provides an overview of the crossover between housing instability and child well-being as well as programs and strategies that can help child welfare-involved families secure and maintain safe, affordable housing.
Building Capacity to Evaluate Interventions for Youth/Young Adults With Child Welfare Involvement At-Risk of Homelessness (YARH), 2013–2024
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (2020)
Provides project descriptions and reports from the two phases of the Children’s Bureau’s planning and implementation grants to build capacity to end youth homelessness.
Case Studies: Demonstrating the Effectiveness of Supportive Housing for Families in the Child Welfare System
U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (2017)
Presents the case studies of five demonstration grants that tested the effectiveness of supportive housing for particularly vulnerable families involved with the child welfare system. The materials include information on the grantees’ lessons learned and next steps as well as videos from the Cedar Rapids and Connecticut demonstration sites.
Evolution in Programs Offering Supportive Housing to Child Welfare-Involved Families: Services Integration and Systems Change at the Half-Way Point (PDF - 935 KB)
Burt, Gearing, & McDaniel (2016)
Examines the progress that five demonstration sites made toward providing housing and intensive services to high-need families in the child welfare system.
Housing Insecurity and Child Welfare (PDF - 205 KB)
California Child Welfare Co-Investment Partnership
Insights, xv (2018)
Identifies the level of housing instability for child welfare-involved families in California, promising programs across the State that are providing housing support for families, and strategies and programs that can help all families achieve stable housing.
How Can Supportive Housing Help Improve Outcomes for Families in the Child Welfare System?
Casey Family Programs (2019)
Details the key components of supportive housing and evidence indicating the effectiveness of supportive housing programs for child welfare-involved families as well as highlights promising jurisdictions across the country that are helping families achieve stable housing through supportive housing approaches.
Related Publications for Building Capacity to Evaluate Interventions for Youth With Child Welfare Involvement at Risk of Homelessness: Phase I and II
Mathematica Policy Research (2020)
Provides high-level themes and lessons learned from a process study of the Children’s Bureau planning and implementation grants for developing and testing cross-system interventions for youth with child welfare involvement who are most likely to experience homelessness.
Skills for Collaboration: Training Graduate Students in Using Evidence to Evaluate a Homelessness Program
Lery, Miller Haight, & Roscoe (2020)
Journal of Social Work Education, 56
Describes the Cal-Child Welfare Leadership Training model between University of California, Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare and San Francisco’s Human Services Agency, which traines social work graduate students in homelessness intervention research using a continuous quality improvement approach.