According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development 2015 Annual Homelessness Assessment, 206,286 people in families, including 127,787 children under the age of 18 were homeless on a single night in 2015. For some of these families, lack of adequate housing contributed to the decision to open child welfare cases, place children in out of home care, or delay reunification of children with parent.
As a leading NJ counseling and family services agency with many years of experience working with the child welfare system, FAMILYConnections is addressing this need with HomeSafe. HomeSafe, a FAMILYConnections’ program providing services under the New Jersey Department of Children and Families’ “Keeping Families Together” initiative, is a supportive housing program designed to help child welfare involved families be safely, healthfully and permanently reunified/stabilized in their own homes.
Funded by the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF), the program is based on the CSH* “Keeping Families Together” model. DCF selected HomeSafe to pilot the “Keeping Families Together” program in Essex County 3 years ago, and since then 24 families have been housed and 49 children have remained with their families and stayed out of the foster care system.
HomeSafe offers service in the following areas:
- Housing Case Management: Families receive assistance in selecting and obtaining housing. Assistance is also provided in budgeting and other household needs, and linkage to outside or other FAMILYConnections services.
- Clinical Services and Case Management: Weekly home visits providing individual and family counseling for mental health and substance use treatment, support and collaboration with other treatment and services, and work towards treatment plan goals.
- Peer Support and Parent Advocacy: Peer support groups where families can work with other families with similar challenges and receive feedback and support.
HomeSafe began as an Essex County pilot in 2014, providing supportive housing to 10 families. The program expanded to Passaic County in 2015; to Hudson County in 2016; with a further expansion of 15 families in Essex County in June 2017.
Today, 19 families are currently receiving supportive services through HomeSafe:
- 100% of families are safely housed
- 93% remain housed 12 months after placement
- 86% have had no re-occurrence of child abuse or neglect reports
- 90% experienced an increase in mental health and substance abuse well-being
- A Fiscally Fit Campaign has been initiated to help families remain stable through job readiness and financial independence
*CSH, a leading developer of supportive housing solutions for the homeless.