Lifting the Burdens From Struggling Families

//Lifting the Burdens From Struggling Families

Today’s guest blogger is Kristin Ashworth.

The Huffington Post’s article, Lifting the Burdens from Struggling Families, run on 2/8/16, states that President Obama will seek $11 billion to address family homelessness. As part of his proposal, he hopes to create 25,500 new supportive housing units, or housing that is coupled with social services. The Corporation for Supportive Housing, CHS, has partnered with housing services & child protection workers, to develop supportive housing models, to help families experiencing poverty who have consequently come into contact with the child welfare system.

When families face crisis, many child protection workers feel compelled to pull children from their homes, placing them in foster care. Studies show that this is not likely the best outcome for children or parents. 40% of homeless adults were once a part of the foster care system. Children who have been in foster care are more likely to commit a crime, develop PTSD, be unemployed and develop drug and alcohol addictions. Keeping families intact, in supportive housing, with a focus on parenting, substance use and mental health, produces the best outcomes for families.

In 2010, CHS conducted a year-long supportive housing pilot program called Keeping Families Together. Results showed a 91% housing retention rate, a 20% increase in school attendance, no new child removals and open CPS cases reduced by 61%. These results caught the attention of the federal government in 2012, and they implemented a national demonstration project to see if it can effectively be tailored to improve child welfare outcomes. The Huffington Post article suggests that with a reasonable amount of support, and stable housing, families at the intersection of homelessness and the child welfare system, are often able to stay intact and the outcome is best for everyone involved, including taxpayers and stakeholders.

The Huffington Post article does not highlight many of the statistics that lead to the President’s decision to pursue this money and its allocation, or CHS’s (Corporation for Supportive Housing) reasons for believing they’ll be part of the solution. It does however, link to several outside articles and I’ve included several statistics from the articles to to help fill in the gaps.

Since the passing of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, there has been such a cultural shift towards fast termination of parental rights in order to reduce children’s time floating in foster care that not a lot of attention has been paid to the damage caused by cutting ties with birth families. I’m not sure that the general public has a good understanding of the impact that out of home placement can have on children. This article dispels some of those myths and emphasizes the importance of permanency, insomuch as it is possible, in the child’s family of origin. Keeping Families Together addresses the real needs of families in crisis, while attempting to maintain familial ties and permanency for children.

Reference

De Santis, D., (2016, February 8). Lifting the Burdens From Struggling Families. Huffington
Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-de-santis/lifting-the-burdens-
from_b_9188092.html

About the Author:

Melissa Batalden Mendez, MSW, LICSW is the Title IV-E Field Coordinator at CASCW. She coordinates the field placements for MSW students who are receiving the Title IV-E child welfare stipend through CASCW. She leads a special Title IV-E field placement program at Hennepin County.

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