• March 2015
  • Vol. 16, No. 2

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Associate Commissioner's Page

The following is the monthly message from JooYeun Chang, the Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau. Each message focuses on the current CBX Spotlight theme and highlights the Bureau's work on the topic.

A lack of safe and stable housing can have negative impacts on the well-being of children, youth, and families and place them at increased risk of child welfare involvement. The Children's Bureau is committed to addressing homelessness and housing issues among children, youth, and families involved with or at risk of involvement with child welfare.

Over the past 2 years, the percentage of youth transitioning out of foster care through aging out or emancipation has remained the same. This means that more work must be done to help youth achieve permanency and ensure they leave foster care with a positive, lifelong connection to a caring adult. Research shows a high rate of homelessness among youth involved with child welfare, particularly among those who age out of foster care. Our efforts to help this vulnerable population include reducing their risk of homelessness or unstable housing experiences.

In 2012 and 2013, the Children's Bureau funded two 24-month planning grants to develop a model intervention for youth and young adults with child welfare involvement and who were at risk of homelessness. These grants are designed to build evidence-based interventions to prevent and address homelessness among youth in and who age out of foster care. We developed an intervention framework based on a pilot intervention developed by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (http://usich.gov/) with populations of youth and young adults who have or have had involvement with foster care. This year, we announced the second phase of this grant: 3-year implementation grants to fund the installation of model interventions developed under the planning grants. Read the implementation grants forecast at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/hhsgrantsforecast/index.cfm?switch=grant.view&gff_grants_forecastInfoID=70847.

In 2014, the Children's Bureau released an Information Memorandum (IM) that provides guidance to States on services for youth under age 18 who run away from foster care and come in contact with runaway and homeless youth programs. More information about the IM is available on the Children's Bureau website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource-library/search?from=2014-01&to=2014-12&topic[3486]=3486.

We also are working to prevent children from entering foster care by helping families for whom a lack of adequate housing puts children at risk of entering out-of-home care. In fact, every year, inadequate housing contributes to the removal of 22,000 children from their families.To help prevent children from entering foster care due to family homelessness and other critical issues—including the need for services to address mental illness, substance use, domestic violence, and more—the Children's Bureau funded five projects in 2012 under the Partnerships to Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Supportive Housing for Families in the Child Welfare System grant cluster. The five projects are working to support:

  • The development and expansion of triage procedures for families who come to the attention of child welfare due to severe housing issues in addition to other high service needs
  • Local implementation of supportive housing services that integrate community services for housing and other services for this population
  • Customized case management services for children and their parents, as well as trauma-informed interventions and evidence-based mental health services
  • Evaluations that examine the process and implementation outcomes for these grants

The Urban Institute published a report on the Children's Bureau grants. Supportive Housing for High-Need Families in the Child Welfare System is available at http://www.urban.org/publications/2000010.html.

A joint letter released in May 2014 and signed by leaders from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development announced the new Federal plan Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness and set the goal of ending homelessness for youth and families by 2020. Read the letter at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/acf-hud-announce-prevent-end-homelessness.
 

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