Putting Survey Data Into Practice: Part 1 Health and Wellness


“If the providers understand the family’s perspective on things, they
are better able to help, are more sympathetic, and the family’s needs
can be better met.” 

— Homes for Families Consumer Advocacy Team (CAT) Member, 2017

In September of 2017, HFF released a full report on Family Experiences of Homelessness in Massachusetts. We are continuing to explore and build off of the survey data used in that report, and one way we are doing this is with this blog series, a continuation of the “Putting Survey Data Into Practice” document released in January. The series incorporates the perspectives of families and providers in relation to key data points, and works towards solutions for families and family-centered care.

Health & Wellness

Important points from the survey results:

  • Mental health is captured as a contributing cause of homelessness
  • A high percentage of parents reported their health and stress got worse after entering shelter.

Slide 8_REFACT

We wanted to hear from families! What would be some of the best approaches to address families’ health and wellness needs while experiencing homelessness? The HFF  Consumer Advocacy Team (CATs) shared their reflections, summarized here:

How can programs move toward addressing clinical needs?

  • Assessments—identify mental health needs and provide early support before homelessness, or challenges following homelessness, occur.
  • Front-door assessments are an opportunity to identify whether or not mental health may have been a contributing cause to a family’s displacement, and providing supports early on if they are necessary. 
  • Provide childcare to families—some are unable to receive proper care without it.

How can serving mental and emotional health needs be built into practice?

  • Recognize the different practical needs that families face compared to individuals—families should not have to choose between their health and their children. 
  • Trauma-informed care, a better understanding of the health issues associated with families being displaced; providers should have easy access to training, resources, and connections to health centers. 

How can we create a system that allows for greater flexibility and more specialization of services?

  • Find support early on, and do so through intake assessments to avoid making assumptions about a family’s specific needs. 
  • Staff training in specialty areas that address the different challenges families may face (domestic violence, substance abuse, etc.). 

This post is authored by I.W. & N.M.

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