The Keeping Families Together pilot is first and foremost about supportive housing helping kids. The Keeping Families Together pilot achieved promising outcomes for high-need families because supportive housing leadership and staff understand that supportive housing, in many cases, is a family’s last best chance to find stability and stay together (see the Metis Keeping Families Together Evaluation). Although the Keeping Families Together model is not yet considered evidence-based, CSH attributes much of the success of the pilot to its five core components and recommends that any community wishing to initiate a similar project incorporate the following:
It is the core intervention utilized in the Keeping Families Together pilot. Supportive housing is subsidized housing with customized support services tailored to the individual needs of families. There are two models of housing in supportive housing. Some supportive housing is site-based where units are designed and built for the purpose of delivering supportive services to tenants. Supportive housing is more commonly established in a scatter-site model where a provider leases units from private market landlords with a public subsidy and helps the family stay in the apartment with a variety of services. Services should be trauma-informed and evidence-based and should focus on the needs of both the parent and child. Housing First, a philosophical approach that minimizes barriers for families to become housed, is a key principle of quality supportive housing.
Keeping Families Together identifies families most in need of housing and support by applying criteria for entry designed to identify children most at risk of recurring neglect and homelessness.
Parents with multiple challenges like substance abuse, mental health issues, low educational attainment, etc., need more than one public service system to meet their needs. Keeping Families Together coordinates these services and systems at the family-level through the Keeping Families Together case manager and at the systems level by convening agency leaders to integrate resources and work more efficiently for families. An interdisciplinary team is essential to meeting the multiple needs of high-need families.
The job of a supportive housing case manager is extremely difficult. The Keeping Families Together approach ensures that case managers are appropriately trained and supported with clinical supervision, and that they utilize best practices and evidence-based services for families.
Keeping Families Together measures outcomes among families and children to ensure that families are benefiting and that the goals of the initiative are being meet. Keeping Families Together uses interviews with families and children, service providers and administrative data to determine results. These results are used to continue to adjust the model to ensure that it is meeting the needs of families. Existing assessment tools can be used to measure family functioning, child well-being, adult mental wellness, etc. Tools found in the CSH Dimensions of Quality Supportive Housing can help ensure your supportive housing model is meeting the core components of supportive housing to improve housing stability. The evaluation should also measure the degree to which public agency resources are integrated and sustainable.