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April 2010Vol. 11, No. 3Strengthening At-Risk and Homeless Young Mothers and Children

The Strengthening At Risk and Homeless Young Mothers and Children Initiative focuses on addressing the health, housing, and developmental needs of at-risk, homeless mothers and children. The initiative bridges the child welfare, child development, and housing and homelessness fields by supporting locally based partnerships that include representatives from these different types of local agencies.

Currently, there are four pilot communities and grantees:

  • Strengthening Young Families (Antelope Valley, CA), which is based on a home-visiting model for strengthening the parent-child relationship
  • Hope & Home (Pomona/Pasadena, CA), which focuses on parent and child reunification for families involved with the child welfare system
  • STRong: Strengthening Our New Generation (Minneapolis, MN), which works on housing issues
  • Family Assertive Community Treatment, (Chicago, IL), which targets services to families identified as having the "greatest need," such as families who cannot maintain stable housing and young mothers aging out of the foster care system

While these pilot programs are currently undergoing an evaluation, data collected thus far indicate that the programs share some important similarities, for example:

  • Many participants have a history of child welfare involvement—some were involved with the foster care system when they were young or were separated from their children, and others fell into both of these categories.
  • Many participants have a traumatic history, such as exposure to abuse and neglect in their homes and in foster care settings.
  • Many participants are aging out or have aged out of the foster care system.

The ongoing evaluations will focus on outcomes and program effectiveness for improving the services for at-risk, homeless young mothers and children. The results may provide guidance on what type of program design is optimal for serving homeless populations that have a history of child welfare and foster care system involvement.

The Strengthening At Risk and Homeless Young Mothers and Children Initiative is supported by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the National Center on Family Homelessness (NCFH), the National Alliance to End Homelessness, and ZERO TO THREE. The full report is available on the NCFH website:

The initiative has two recent publications that address family unification and home visiting: