September 12, 2012

Feds, nonprofits hand CT DCF $6M for families

Connecticut's child-welfare agency is getting some $6 million in federal and nonprofit money toward its mission of curbing household abuse and neglect and helping families find stable housing, authorities say.

Senators Joseph I. Lieberman and Richard Blumenthal, and Congressman John B. Larson announced Wednesday the funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for the Connecticut Department of Children and Families' Intensive Supportive Housing for Families Program.

Separately, the Administration for Children and Families announced it is teaming with four national foundations to fund a $5 million grant to DCF to address homelessness and keep families together.

DCF is one of five grantees selected to create supportive housing initiatives, authorities said. The other grantees are Kids in Distress (Wilton Manors, Fla.), Community Alliance for the Homeless (Memphis, Tenn.), Four Oaks Family and Children's Services (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), and the San Francisco Human Services Agency.

ACF says it will provide $1 million per year to each of the five grantees for five years ($25 million total) to demonstrate the effectiveness and potential cost-savings of projects incorporating stable housing and comprehensive services that focus on safety, positive family functioning, and child well-being. Funding for the following four years is dependent on the availability of funds and grantees meeting certain benchmarks.

DCF will team up with other state partners, community agencies and service providers to create an integrated, collaborative, cross-system intervention model for families within the child welfare system who have severe housing issues and high service needs. The partnership will develop a two-tiered triage procedure including access to stable housing, assessment, and interventions.

In 2010, nearly 2,500 children entered foster care statewide. The vast majority (92 percent) came to the attention of child welfare authorities due to neglect, with housing conditions as a major contributing factor. Connecticut homeless shelters served more than 15,000 people (2,700 children) last year.

Additionally, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Casey Family Programs, and Edna McConnell Clark Foundation will provide a combined total of at least $10 million over the next five years. This money will be used for technical assistance and rigorous national evaluations of the supportive housing plan's effectiveness.

ACF said, citing a report by the Partnership to End Long-Term Homelessness, the public cost of Keeping Families Together was $3 per day, including the cost of housing and rehabilitation services. This compares to public costs per day in New York City of $54 for a shelter, $74 for a prison, $165 for a jail, $467 for a mental hospital, and $1,185 for a traditional hospital.

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