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Program Targets Homeless Families Across US
Associated Press, Kelli Kennedy, 09/12/2012

Federal child welfare officials announced Wednesday they are expanding a pilot program that provides housing and case workers to homeless families most at risk for having a child enter foster care. The five-year, $35 million expansion to several areas across the country provides permanent housing for a few hundred families who have been homeless for at least a year, and had at least one case of child abuse or neglect. Homeless families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population and account for more than one-third of overall homelessness, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The focus on deep-rooted issues related to poverty comes as child welfare officials are pushing to keep kids safely in the home and provide services whenever possible instead of rushing to place them in foster care. In the past, those services traditionally focused on the childs imminent safety, but officials are now looking to provide more intensive services including job training, substance abuse and mental health treatment, trauma counseling for children growing up in these homes and parenting skills.

"These are the complex families. These are the ones that child welfare systems struggle to know what the right set of resources are. These are the families that stay in the system longer because they have both the family related issues as well as poverty," said Administration for Children and Families Commissioner Bryan Samuels.

Editor's Note: The initiative is the product of a partnership between the federal government, RWJF and three other private foundations.

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