Housing and Child Well Being: Implications for Research, Policy, and Practice

Inadequate housing and homelessness represent significant barriers to family stability and child development. An accumulating body of evidence documents the relatively high risk of family separation among families experiencing housing instability and homelessness, the extent of housing problems experienced by families involved in the child welfare system, and the disproportionately high rates of homelessness among youth aging out of foster care. Vulnerable youth and families interact frequently with various social service programs intended to mitigate multifaceted and multilevel risks, however, systems efforts and resources are rarely coordinated and results to date are mixed. We introduce 13 papers that are part of a burgeoning, increasingly sophisticated body of scholarship that inform coordinated responses to inadequate housing experienced by families involved in child welfare and related interventions. We note emergent themes and state a pressing need for research that accounts for ecological and contextual influences, examines the differential impact of housing and service interventions, identifies critical ingredients of effective housing and service interventions, and positions for scale-up. We distill findings into a set of observations and recommendations that align with best intentions to improve quality of life and promote well being among some of society's most vulnerable individuals.

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American Journal of Community Psychology