CSH has developed a list of indicators to assess community “readiness” to implement a child welfare-focused supportive housing initiative such as Keeping Families Together.

Use the topics/questions below to assess whether your community has the five essential components needed:

Housing Resources

Keeping Families Together is predicated on the fact that permanent affordable housing is the platform for effective service use and positive outcomes for families. In Keeping Families Together, families have leases and rights and responsibilities of tenancy. Tenure in housing is not contingent upon families’ participation in services. In addition, rent must be adequately subsidized so that extremely low-income tenants would pay no more than 30% of their gross monthly income for rent.

Questions to consider:

  1. Does the community have family supportive housing units in development or how does your local coordinated assessment system prioritize and refer families for open units?
  2. Does the community have access to 20-50 rental subsidies or vouchers through federal, state or local resources? The local Public Housing Authority can tell you if your community has any of the following:
    • Tenant-based Family Unification Program (FUP)/ Section 8 Vouchers-Tenants pay 30% of their income; vouchers are administered by local Public Housing Authority
    • Sponsor-based Rental Subsidies Nonprofit organization secure subsidies, rent apartments in the community and sublease apartments to families
    • HUD Shelter plus Care Federal program that provides a section 8-level subsidy; requires organizations to provide a service match so that services and housing subsidy are integrated. Nonprofit organizations administer
    • State/local rental subsidies Permanent and/or transitional subsidies. Families may have to pay 30% or more of their income


Child Welfare System Partners

The mandate of the child welfare system is like no other system. Although the paradigm is changing, most public child welfare agencies are safety focused and crisis-oriented. In order for Keeping Families Together to be successful, there must be a level of engagement of the child welfare system. They must see the value to their families and must experience the program as one that relieves some of their staff burdens. (See Child welfare engagement strategies for tips for working with child welfare agencies.)

Questions to Consider:

  1. Does the child welfare agency already collaborate with the Public Housing Authority? With Supportive Housing providers?
  2. Does the Child Welfare Agency see housing as a critical issue for the families they serve? Do they have access to Family Unification Program (FUP) Vouchers?  If so, how are they being used?
  3. Is there a high-ranking staff person in the child welfare system that sees the need and wants to collaborate?


Service Capacity

Improving the safety, stability and well-being of vulnerable children and families is complicated work, requiring wide ranging information and practical knowledge. 

Questions to Consider:

  1. Does your community have existing social service providers that are focused on the health, growth and development of children?
  2. Are these providers willing to serve families in housing? Do they have capacity to serve additional families or are they willing rearrange their infrastructure to pilot their services in housing?
  3. Are providers willing to adopt a “whatever it takes” approach?



The needs of vulnerable families cannot be met by one public service system.  Successful programs take into account the holistic needs of families and collaborate with multiple services professionals and systems to knit together services that are flexible and responsive.  Communities that have established partnerships and have experience utilizing collaborative approaches to serve families will be well-positioned to take on a complicated project like Keeping Families Together.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Is there an effective collaboration of public agencies and non-profit social service providers already organized and working well together? Can this collaboration be built upon?
  2. Is the collaboration willing to adapt basic principles of Keeping Families Together?



Any new initiative needs a champion to build momentum for the project, make connections and build partnerships. Keeping Families Together needs a leader in the community to move the project forward.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Is there a local CSH office?
  2. Is there a champion of the initiative within a community non-profit or government agency?
  3. Does this individual/organization have access or ability to fund raise? Develop funding proposals?


Next: Key Program Evaluation Criteria

go to the keeping families together toolkit table of contents.

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