One promising approach to interrupting this cycle is supportive housing, which differs from general housing assistance in two ways. First, supportive housing offers social services along with housing. Second, these programs recognize housing as a platform for creating the stability to engage in services and/or building toward self-sufficiency. Supportive housing provides families with a sense of dignity, security, and permanency, allowing them to turn their attention to their own well-being and the well-being of their family. The issue is a matter of social justice, as all individuals have a right to thrive, not just survive.
This session brings together three studies from a five-site, five-year demonstration that provides supportive housing to families in the child welfare system called Partnerships to Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Supportive Housing for Families in the Child Welfare System. Using a rigorous randomized control trial design, 807 families were randomized to either a treatment group (n=377) or a control group (n = 430) in 2012. For this symposium, we draw on child welfare administrative data, program referral data, and family surveys conducted at baseline, 12 months, and 54 months after randomization.
The first paper used child welfare administrative data to examine each family's child welfare events longitudinally, one of the first studies to examine supportive housing outcomes up to 4.5 years after the intervention. The second paper explores whether or not supportive housing improved parenting practices and the social and emotional well-being of children 4.5 years after randomization, offering insight into the long term impacts of supportive housing on parenting and child well-being. The third paper describes how supporting housing effected families' housing and economic stability over time, again using survey data 4.5 years after the intervention. Together these papers explore the effects of a supportive housing intervention for families currently involved in the child welfare system to synthesize the research on what works, what barriers exist, and what we still need to know to help families thrive.