This month, The Connection, Inc., a Connecticut-based human service and community development agency, invited CSH, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF), and other New Jersey service providers for a site visit to learn about Connecticut’s experience in replicating Keeping Families Together (KFT), a CSH-inspired supportive housing intervention for families at risk of recurring involvement in the child welfare system.
The Connection provided an overview of its Supportive Housing for Families and Intensive Supportive Housing for Families programs to their counterparts in New Jersey.
The visit also included a panel of tenants from both programs discussing their personal stories.
One mother of four described how she struggled through the trauma of domestic violence and described her experience in supportive housing as more than living in an apartment – she said for the first time in her life, she felt she was safe and at home. She conveyed how supportive housing case management supports focused on her entire family when her sixteen-year-old daughter began contemplating dropping out of high school. The mother reached out to her supportive housing case manager and a vocational specialist at The Connection for help. Working with mom and daughter, the manager and specialist collectively demonstrated the long-term and economic advantages of the young girl staying in school, and convinced her to pursue her education. The story is a powerful example of how effective child-welfare practices, when embedded in supportive housing, empower families to be key partners in case-related planning and decision-making in a positive, trusting environment.
Another young mother told how she and her three-year old daughter became homeless and involved in the child welfare system after a traumatic life event put them on the streets. Before The Connection’s housing intervention, the young family was living in a doubled-up situation, and the mother shared how “not living in her own place really affected her [daughter].” Now permanently housed in supportive housing, the three-year old just celebrated her birthday in her own home, and the mother is now able to focus attention on seeking therapy to heal from past trauma.
Deb DeSantis, the CEO of CSH, said she was “thrilled with the conversation among the host and visitors, and the opportunity to have our partners learn from each other. I appreciated the chance to hear from the families who were kind enough to share their stories. It was a great.”
On the day of the Connecticut site visit, the New Jersey DCF issued an RFP for providers pursuing KFT in the southern part of the state, offering funding up to $640,000 and a maximum of 25 Project-Based State Rental Assistance Program Vouchers to successful applicants. CSH will serve as a broker and intermediary in New Jersey’s KFT replication efforts thanks to the generous support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Find out more about New Jersey’s RFP for KFT.
To learn more about CSH's work around our most vulnerable families with children, click here.