Putting Survey Data Into Practice: Part 2, Children

“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.

Stay tuned every Monday in April at 10am for a new (coffee break) installment of this blog series!


Important points from the survey results (page numbers correspond to the full report):

  • 1 in 4 families surveyed indicated that they had additional children not with them in shelter (p. 10)
  • Nearly a third of families with school-aged children switched schools at least once (p. 16)


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

How can we better support family re-unification and serving the needs of the whole family?

  • Connect families with the resources they need, working to thoroughly identify needs across the whole family.
  • Increase support teams who will listen to the needs of families and help prepare families for re-unification.
  • Provide stabilization and support systems that work for the whole family.

How can we better address issues related to children switching schools?

  • Having focus groups with parents to further explore the issue.
  • Minimize the need for switching schools (placing families nearby children’s prior schools, providing transportation, etc.)
  • Ensure proper support systems that recognize the effects that switching schools may have on the whole family.

Where can we do better by children and families by making needed supports for children truly accessible, while keeping families intact?

  • More personalized understanding of a family’s whole situation, deeper than what shows up “on paper.”
  • Ensure that when families identify needs, connections are made toward the proper resources. 
  • Support families’ needs early on, before separation occurs. 



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

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