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Keeping Families Together

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family in magnetic letters on a wall

Keeping Families Together in Mecklenburg County (MeckKFT)

Mecklenburg County Community Support Services (CSS), in collaboration with Mecklenburg County's Department of Social Services, Youth and Family Services Division (YFS) launched the MeckKFT project by awarding Supportive Housing Communities funding to provide supportive services and rental subsidies for the community's highest need families involved with YFS and the emergency shelter system. 

Specifically, this supportive housing intervention targets families involved with, and have a history of involvement in, the child welfare system who:

  • Are experiencing homelessness;
  • Have children at risk for out-of-home placement or children already in out-of-home placement;
  • Have an approved goal that includes in-home services or reunification, and;
  • Are facing additional risk factors or co-occurring challenges including, but not limited to, substance use disorders, medical and/or mental illness, and domestic violence.  

 

MeckKFT provides enrolled families with access to housing subsidies and a robust array of supportive services, involving case planning with a team of clinical and case management staff and coordination of programming that includes evidence-based and trauma-informed services. Families may enter the program without income but, with support from case managers, obtain income and contribute 30% of their income toward rent.

In June 2020, at the end of the budget fiscal year, a total of 16 families were referred to the new program, MeckKFT. Nine families have moved into permanent housing, and one family exited to market rate housing and increased their household income. MeckKFT will serve 50 families through Fiscal Year 2022.

For more information, please contact Karen Pelletier at Karen.Pelletier@MeckNC.gov

Background

Family homelessness has significant negative impacts on families and children including family separation, poor physical and mental health outcomes and lower social-emotional and academic well-being. Children experiencing homelessness are more likely to miss school, score lower in math and reading tests, and are at a greater risk of dropping out of high school.

A family is defined as a household with at least one adult over the age of 18 and one child under the age of 18. Family homelessness is defined as literally homeless (staying in shelters, transitional housing or on the streets) and living in unstable housing.

In order to fully address the complex needs of families with recurring child welfare involvement, homelessness/housing instability, substance use disorders, and other co-occurring challenges such as mental illness, chronic medical conditions, and domestic violence, a longer-term comprehensive model (i.e. supportive housing) is needed. Supportive housing affords parents the ability to enhance their capacity to provide a safe and stable home for their children, and stable, affordable housing is also a crucial component of recovery for individuals with substance use disorders. Moreover, a growing body of research suggests that stabilizing individuals in supportive housing can reduce their use of expensive public crisis services such as emergency rooms, psychiatric hospitals, and jails.

The goal of KFT is to improve outcomes for children by providing a secure place for families to live in an affordable, caring, supportive setting. Families are provided with the necessary support and guidance to manage their lives and improve well-being. Children benefit from supportive and stable communities, positive adult role models, and stronger family units.

 

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