The CSH-backed “Bringing Families Home” proposal, establishing a $10 million state grant program to house child welfare-involved families experiencing homelessness, has been signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown.
Though homelessness is not a basis for foster care placement, families who are homeless have much higher rates of child welfare involvement than other low-income families. Moreover, 30% of children in foster care cannot reunite with families because the family lacks safe, stable housing. Parents exiting incarceration similarly find challenges in reunifying with their children because they lack housing. (Inadequate housing remains one of the largest barriers to reunification.)
While some counties in California are creating pilots to house homeless child welfare-involved families, county child-welfare and housing systems face challenges in building bridges between these two systems, and in “scaling up” housing opportunities. Focused resources spurring county investment will advance collaboration between child welfare and homeless systems, while ensuring children who could reunite with birth families are able to do so.
The new $10 million program will create a state grant to foster investment in housing and services for homeless child welfare-involved families. The California Department of Social Services will select between two and four counties to participate through a competitive application process. The state grants will match county dollars to pay for housing and services, as well as liaisons between child welfare agencies and homeless-housing systems.
This effort promotes practices that evidence shows avoid foster care placement and allow for reunification of birth parents and their children. Data demonstrate getting homeless families into stable, safe, permanent housing prevents foster care placement and furthers reunification with birth parents.
Moreover, housing strategies advanced in this new program work to decrease rates of homelessness among families with children, re-incarceration, and healthcare costs.