All families have a right to safe, quality, and affordable housing. Housing provides a critical foundation for safe, stable, healthy, and thriving families. Yet, a lack of stable housing often leads to a family's involvement and a barrier to ending involvement with the child welfare system.
Families should never enter the child welfare system due to poverty or housing instability issues. Community-based and public agencies serving families need not be housing agencies or experts. Yet, your role is to systematically identify housing needs among families you serve and collaboratively support housing stability.
Screening for housing stability protects families and helps them thrive. Child welfare and community-based agencies can embed housing stability screening within your case management protocols to:
- Prevent the risk of homelessness and further child welfare involvement.
- Identify housing needs and ensure families receive appropriate housing resources and services.
- Improve children's and family's health, well-being, and quality of life for those experiencing disparities in the Social determinants of health (SDOH).
- Mitigate childhood and family trauma and enjoy a role in enhancing a family's ability to thrive.
Resources for Public and Community Agencies
A growing number of state and county child welfare agencies, community-based agencies, and other providers have integrated housing stability screening within their triage and assessment processes. Integration of housing stability screening within child welfare and community-based prevention efforts for families can:
- Serve as a valuable triage tool for those providing direct support and
- Provide leaders with critical data to improve systems, programs, and housing investments.
Please access these tools and information on how communities in California, Connecticut, and Minnesota successfully implement housing stability screenings to keep families together and housed.
Click here to view sample screening questions adapted from the Housing Stability Estimator used in Hennepin County, MN.
Click here for Research Brief (2015) describing how CT implemented universal housing screenings published by the University of Connecticut Center for Applied Research in Human Development.
Click here for a technical report (2015) of CT's pilot: Universal Housing Screening of Families Undergoing Child Welfare Investigation.
Click here for a report (2021) of the Bringing Families Home (BFH) program that worked to prevent homelessness and reunify families involved in the child welfare system in San Francisco, CA where they integrated housing stability screening within their child welfare structured decision making tool.
Steps to Embed Family Housing Stability Screening
A coalition of leaders in the child welfare and housing sectors wants to collaborate with community-based and public agencies, including state, tribal, and county leaders and champions, to help you embed housing stability screening in your case management protocols.
This coalition includes CSH, Casey Family Programs, Child Welfare League of America, American Public Human Services Association, Abt Associates, and Birth Parent National Network members with support from the One Roof Advisory Board.
Please work with us to establish family housing stability screenings. We will work with you to:
- Include multiple partners and parents with lived experience to help leaders and decision-makers understand the on-the-ground realities families face and what matters most to families.
- Implement protocols to prevent child welfare involvement based solely on a child's poverty or housing status.
- Integrate opportunities to support families in natural places where families and children access services like public health, early childhood, schools, family resource centers, and well-child visits.
- Educate legal and judicial stakeholders on the connections between housing stability screening, legal advocacy for families, and judicial findings related to reasonable and active efforts.
Contact CSH for additional information and support opportunities at 1Roof@csh.org.
Check back for additional examples and resources to support the implementation of housing stability screening.