Families at the Nexus of Housing and Child Welfare
Research on the relationship between housing and child welfare has consistently found a higher rate of child welfare system involvement among families that are homeless or otherwise precariously housed than among low income families with stable housing. Studies also show that housing problems are common among child welfare system involved families and can become a barrier to the reunification of children who have been placed in out-of-home care.
A growing awareness of the relationship between housing and child welfare has led to calls in recent years for interventions aimed at preventing homeless or otherwise precariously housed from entering the child welfare system or for increased attention to the housing needs of families with current child welfare system involvement. Although some progress has been made on both these fronts, much remains to be done to avoid the unnecessary removal of children from their homes or delays in their return due to inadequate or unstable housing.
This issue brief summarizes what we currently know about the relationship between housing and child welfare, describes some of the ways child welfare agencies are addressing the housing needs of families, and explores the use (or potential use) of housing interventions to reduce child welfare involvement among families that are homeless. It concludes with a discussion of implications for policy, practice, and further research.
The issue brief was commissioned by the First Focus State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center (SPARC), an initiative funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, and Walter S. Johnson Foundation, that aims to improve outcomes for children and families involved with the child welfare system by building the capacity of and connections between state child welfare advocates.