In any given conversation about funding services for the poor, it is not unusual to hear, “There are simply not enough resources to serve all of the people who need help.” Since the recession, funding to meet even the most basic needs of families is rapidly vanishing. We are told, at all levels of social service, public and private, that it is incumbent upon us to use the funding we have more effectively and efficiently. We are told that the way to do this is to be more innovative, creative, to collaborate. However, most public funding streams are rigid and are not conducive to these ideas.
However, at the close of 2013, thirty-eight families are on their way to becoming stably housed because our massive public child welfare system, overseen by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), decided to do things a little differently. ACYF knew they could not do it alone, so they recruited the support of four philanthropic partners, Robert Wood Johnson, Annie E. Casey, Edna McConnell Clark and Casey Family Programs to help them create the flexibility and support necessary to test a new service paradigm in child welfare—supportive housing.
Five grantees, representing sixty-five + public and private partnerships nation-wide, are implementing family supportive housing, most, for the for the first time. Behavioral health, public housing, family court, local child welfare agencies, homeless shelters and others, are working across their systems, sharing resources and expertise with the goal of providing supportive housing to nearly 500 of our most vulnerable children and families by 2017. CSH along with the Center for the Study of Social Policy have teamed up to provide technical assistance to the grantees through the Child Welfare and Supportive Housing Resource Center.
We believe this initiative, prompted by the promising results of our Keeping Families Together pilot, is a great example of how an innovative idea, fearless leadership and intentional partnership can spur investment in more efficient and effective services for the most fragile families. In 2014, we look forward to more families becoming and staying housed under this initiative. We look forward to better outcomes for families next year and a better future for their children in the years that follow.
As 2013 closes, we are grateful to our public and private partners for their leadership and for the many inventive service providers across the country willing and able to stretch the limits of their work to achieve better results for kids and families.