Child Welfare 

Transitioning to a New Housing-Focused Framework

Housing & Child Welfare

Building the capacity of child and family serving agencies to address housing instability, including the need for stable housing in child welfare practice, will decrease the numbers of children in foster care due to housing indicators, while at the same time enhancing support and child protection. 

As documented by decades of research, housing instability is a major problem among child welfare families – triggering removal, delaying reunification, and creating conditions that lead to deleterious effects on child well-being.

Housing affects families at each decision point in the child welfare continuum. The integration of housing screening and assessment protocols and practices within mainstream services systems will promote early intervention to prevent housing crises from escalating.

Additionally, by integrating housing strategies into a broad range of child welfare services, families will be assisted in staying together where it is most appropriate.

Housing-related barriers to reunification are often addressed more effectively when a broad range of organizations are involved. The integration of housing-based case management protocols and practices into mainstream services systems in communities will provide the “housing options” that family reunification often requires.

Children from families with housing problems are:

  • More likely to be investigated by Child Protective
    Services (Culhane et al, 2004)
  • More likely to be placed in out-of-home care (Courtney et al, 2004)
  • Longer stayers in foster care (Jones, 1998)

Thirty percent of children in foster care are there because of housing problems (Doerre & Mihaly, 1996; Hagedorn, 1995; Thoma, 1998). 

Housing poses a special challenge for which CW workers are uniquely ill-equipped (English, 2005).

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (2018), housing problems are commonplace among child welfare families; one in ten foster children are removed due to inadequate housing.

For more information, please go to National Center for Housing & Child Welfare www.nchcw.org

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