Supportive Housing for Homeless Families: Foster Care Outcomes and Best Practices
Copyright 2013 Cottage Housing Incorporated.
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May 14, 2013

Supportive Housing for Homeless Families: Foster Care Outcomes and Best Practices

Sonja Lenz-Rashid

Cottage Housing Incorporated

Poverty is a well-documented risk factor for family involvement with child protective services and other elements of the child welfare system.Recent studies show that homeless families have higher rates of being involved in the child welfare system than the general population.However, there is little known about how supportive housing programs for homeless families can affect their long-term outcomes.

This report describes the outcome evaluation of Cottage Housing Incorporated's Serna Village program in Sacramento, California. Serna Village is a supportive housing program serving homeless families. Outcomes from the program illustrate that it is possible to end recidivism into the child welfare system for homeless families by providing them with permanent housing and comprehensive support services. Although homeless and marginally housed families have high support and case management services can prevent these disenfranchised families from re-entering the foster care system.

The intervention of supportive housing -- housing and services focused on the unique needs of adults and their children exiting homelessness -- may break the cycle of abuse and neglect among these families.

Conducted in 2011, this study involved a sample of 293 children and youth from approximately 150 families who lived with one or more parents in Cottage Housing Incorporated's Serna Village between 2002 and 2009, thefirst seven years of the program.

The findings from this study indicate that comprehensive supportive housing programs following a best-practice model can provide homeless parents and their children with stable living for a significant period of time. Supportive housing programs also may give homeless parents an opportunity to find and maintain employment, work on their education, save a substantial amount of money for move-out costs, learn daily living skills, experience a real-world living situation and prevent re-entry into the child welfare system. The outcomes from this study may help inform policymakers and child welfare administrators with recommendations to better assist marginalized families and save valuable funding dollars.

Geographic Focus North America / United States (Western) / California / Sacramento County / Sacramento

Issues Housing and Homelessness
Parenting and Families

Funders Sierra Health Foundation