By proactively identifying and addressing indicators of housing distress, direct service providers can help to mediate the impacts of housing instability on child and family well-being. It is often a child’s teacher, a family’s therapist, or a childcare provider that hears a parent’s first cries for help – and those cries for help often come quite early in the process, when a job is first lost, or working hours cut, when rent payments are late, or car repairs or other crisis destroys an often tight family budget.
These “First Responders” are….
• School Systems
• Child & Family Services Systems
• Neighborhood & Community Centers
• Workforce Development Systems
• Hospitals & Healthcare Systems
and other child-serving systems in communities
Unfortunately today, mainstream and community-based health and human services systems often wait until a family is either on the verge of homelessness or has already lost their housing. At the same time, embarrassed and over-burdened parents may fail to seek assistance during a housing crisis until the problem has escalated. At that point, families move in with family or friends or other temporary living situations. Others are referred to a homeless services system that in many localities cannot keep up with the need. Early intervention and appropriate and timely responses to indicators of housing distress can help to stabilize a precarious housing situation. And so we must ask outselves:
Are We Asking the Right Questions? Are We Asking Them In Time?
Partnering for Change is helping to bridge the gap between research and action, between the evidence base and program implementation. We believe in an individualized and creative approach to addressing the challenges that each family may face in accessing safe and adequate housing, from the implementation of initiatives that help to improve the housing in which families may currently live – to helping families identify and relocate to more affordable neighborhoods.