Permanent Housing for Child Welfare-Involved Families: Impact on Child Maltreatment Overview

Am J Community Psychol. 2017 Sep;60(1-2):91-102. doi: 10.1002/ajcp.12146. Epub 2017 Jul 18.


A longitudinal randomized controlled trial tested whether access to permanent housing reduces child maltreatment among inadequately housed families under investigation for child abuse and neglect. The study followed homeless and child welfare-involved families randomly assigned to receive a referral for housing subsidies plus housing case management (n = 75, 196 children) or housing case management alone (n = 75, 186 children). Latent growth models examined change in caregiver-reported frequencies of psychological aggression, physical abuse, and neglect toward children at five time points across 2.5 years. Intent-to-treat analyses suggested treatment differences for minor assault and neglect that approached significance; families randomly assigned to permanent housing plus case management exhibited marginally greater declines compared to families referred for housing case management only. Caregiver psychological aggression remained high over time, regardless of treatment condition. No evidence indicated higher risk families benefitted more from permanent housing. Results show some promise of permanent housing and highlight the complex needs of homeless families under investigation for child maltreatment. Findings emphasize the importance of continued involvement from the child welfare system to connect families with important resources.

Keywords: Child maltreatment; Child welfare; Family homelessness; Housing stability; Longitudinal randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aggression
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Caregivers / statistics & numerical data
  • Case Management*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child Protective Services*
  • Child Welfare*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Housing*
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons*
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Physical Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Young Adult