Federal Initiative Names Expansion Sites for Supportive Housing Initiative to Keep Children Out of Foster Care

Initiative aims to test new approach for stabilizing fragile families by pairing supportive housing and social services

Sep 12, 2012, 14:19 ET from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, and four private foundations today named local partners for a new $35 million initiative to stabilize fragile families and keep children out of foster care. Broward County (FL), Cedar Rapids (IA), Memphis (TN), San Francisco (CA), and the State of Connecticut will be testing a new model for preventing foster care placements by placing highly fragile families in supportive housing that coordinates needed social and health services within the home setting.

This initiative reflects the growing recognition that placing children in foster care is too often detrimental to their health and well-being and that more should be done to help families stay together. A 2002 study published in the American Journal of Community Psychology concluded that homelessness, rather than parental substance abuse or mental illness, is the strongest predictor that children will be removed from their families.

"As more states move toward serving families safely outside of foster care, it has become more apparent that families face multiple challenges," said Commissioner Bryan Samuels of the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families. "This initiative is designed to help us identify high-need families earlier and to provide the right set of targeted services that lead to meaningful family improvements."

This initiative is the product of a novel partnership between the federal government and four private foundations: the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Casey Family Programs, and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. It is based on an innovative and successful pilot effort in New York City — known as Keeping Families Together — that 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.

"We know that supportive housing can make a critical difference in helping struggling families stay together and get the services they need," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "We need more such innovations in social welfare to solve complex problems like homelessness and foster care involvement."

Additional information can be found here: http://www.rwjf.org/vulnerablepopulations/product.jsp?id=74831

Leslie Lipsick, 415-901-0111, llipsick@fenton.com 
Susan Promislo, 609-627-7638, spromislo@rwjf.org

SOURCE Robert Wood Johnson Foundation