Children experiencing homelessness or living in inadequate and unstable housing are exposed to many risks, including a heightened threat of involvement with the child welfare system if they face neglect, poor safety, abuse, or other harms. For families involved in the child welfare system who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, having stable housing could mitigate these risks and make the difference between staying together as a family or being separated. In 2012, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched Partnerships to Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Supportive Housing for Families in the Child Welfare System, a demonstration that provided supportive housing to families experiencing (or at risk of experiencing) homelessness who were also involved in the child welfare system. The demonstration provided $5 million in five-year grants for intensive wraparound services to be linked with permanent, affordable housing marshalled by each demonstration community. The Urban Institute implemented a mixed-methods randomized controlled trial evaluation of the demonstration across the federal grant projects in five communities.
The implementation and process study aimed to examine each community’s supportive housing model and how it functioned over five years. The study compared model components across sites and used data from annual progress reports, other program documents, and yearly interviews with program planners, administrators, partners, and frontline staff. Although sites varied, they often had similar experiences and challenges.