Stimulus Funds Could Help Prevent Foster Placements

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Although the funds are not described as "family preservation" money, child welfare workers and agencies can tap into more than $1.5 billion in emergency housing funds through the federal stimulus bill to help families whose children are at risk of being placed in foster care due to housing problems.

That's according to the National Center for Housing & Child Welfare (NCHCW), which recently posted a brief on how child welfare agencies can tap into the funds.

The biggest chunk of the money ($1.5 billion) is available from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to states, certain cities and metropolitan counties through Emergency Shelter Grants. Those governmental agencies may subgrant to local units of government or, in some cases, to nonprofits.. NCHCW says its staff was assured by HUD that child welfare case managers are an appropriate referral source for these funds.

"HUD agreed that child welfare workers are often in a position to identify housing problems and prevent homelessness when given access to appropriate resources," states a NCHCW brief on the issue. It calls the funds "an excellent match for the work of child welfare professionals serving precariously housed families. ...

"It is entirely possible that a child welfare organization could use a portion of these funds to cover the cost of staff time dedicated to preventing homelessness among child welfare families and youth."

Child welfare agencies can also tap into $1 billion in similar funding through the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and $100 million for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, which is administered by Federal Emergency Management Agency.

For more detailed information, see Youth Today's guide to stimulus grants (look under HUD) or the NCHCW at