The Costs and Potential Savings of Supportive Housing for Child Welfare–Involved Families

Research Report

The Costs and Potential Savings of Supportive Housing for Child Welfare–Involved Families

Abstract

In 2012, the Children’s Bureau in the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families funded Partnerships to Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Supportive Housing for Families in the Child Welfare System, a five-year, $25 million demonstration that provided supportive housing to families in the child welfare system, in five sites.

With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Casey Family Programs, and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, the Urban Institute evaluated the demonstration’s effectiveness across the five sites. As part of the evaluation, 807 families were randomly assigned to either a treatment group (N = 377), which received supportive housing with intensive services, or a control group (N = 430), which received usual care through the child welfare system. This report summarizes the results of the cost study, which estimates the costs of the housing and services offered in the demonstration and any savings, or additional costs, resulting from the demonstration’s effects on families’ use of homeless programs and child welfare services. We focus on costs from the perspective of the agencies providing services. We do not estimate the cost or benefit to the participating families or to society at large. In part, this is because we focus on of whether the public expenditures for the program can be offset by reduced spending in other systems.

But it is also because after 12 months in the demonstration, there were no clear improvements in health or adult or child well-being for families in the treatment group. If clear differences emerge in the 4.5-year follow-up survey, we will include them in future analyses.

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