Reducing the Impact of Substandard Housing on Child-Welfare Involvement

The Challenge

Too often, housing challenges can exacerbate or prolong a family’s involvement with the child welfare system. A parent’s failure to secure adequate housing can directly contribute to a child’s removal due to neglect. Once a child is in foster care, a lack of adequate housing can delay the child’s reunification with parents.

The Project

Through her Stoneleigh Fellowship, Nan Feyler worked with the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, the Office of Homeless Services, local advocacy groups, and legal services organizations to develop new policies, build new housing resources, and better align practices to address housing challenges for child welfare-involved families.

This Stoneleigh Fellowship enabled Nan to:

  • Develop a cross-system plan to address substandard housing for families involved in the child welfare system. Nan examined existing policies, practices, and data to investigate how housing issues are currently being addressed, and she researched national model programs and policies to identify successful efforts from around the country that could be replicated in Philadelphia.
  • Implement sustainable practice and policy improvements outlined in the cross-system plan. Practice improvements included: developing new tools to improve the quality and usability of housing data, creating training modules to increase the housing expertise of DHS staff and partners, identifying new funding sources and uses, and developing new tools for caseworkers. Promising policy improvements included tackling the current shortage of shelter options for families involved in the child welfare system, increasing short-term rental assistance and housing vouchers, and coordinating supportive housing resources for particularly vulnerable child welfare-involved families.
Photo Credit: Ian Freimuth
Nan Feyler's Headshot

Nan Feyler, JD, MPH

Stoneleigh Fellow

2016 - 2019

Director, Housing and Child Welfare Initiative

Philadelphia Deputy Managing Director's Office for Health and Human Services

Current Position

Former Executive Director (Retired)
Pennsylvania Innocence Project


Project Updates