Larkin, H., Henwood, B., Fogel, S. J., Aykanian, A., Briar-Lawson, K. H., Plitt Donaldson, L., Herman, D., Little, S. B., Meyer-Adams, N., Padgett, D. K., Patchner, M. A., & Streeter, C. L. (2016). Responding to the Grand Challenge to End Homelessness: The National Homelessness Social Work Initiative. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 97(3), 153-159. Available here.

The American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare adopted ending homelessness as one of its 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work. The National Center for Excellence in Homeless Services supports this Grand Challenge through its National Homelessness Social Work Initiative. This initiative is being carried out through a consortium of schools of social work nationally, emphasizing workforce development and policy advocacy. This major, multiyear initiative applies innovative strategies to service and policy design and social work education. This article describes the overall mission of the Homelessness Initiative and key activities used to strengthen social work curriculum, expand homelessness-related field placement opportunities for students, and impact services through the policy advocacy and dissemination of best practices.

Aykanian, A., & Larkin, H. (2015). Health care innovations for homeless families: Emerging opportunities under Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Journal of Children and Poverty, 21(1), 59-68. Available here.

Prior to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (the ACA), the US health care system left many low-income families facing limited access to medical care, struggling with high-health costs, or lacking health insurance altogether. The ACA aims to increase access to care, improve the quality of care, and lower total healthcare costs. While the ACA can benefit all individuals and families, it has significant potential for expanding and improving services for those experiencing homelessness. This paper describes specific opportunities under the ACA and Medicaid that can be used to strengthen services for homeless families and provides examples of efforts under way. It also offers guidance for how homeless service agencies can effect change in their respective states. The examples described here are promising approaches to strengthening homeless services. Pursuing these ideas for homeless families will require initiative, creativity, and perseverance, but recent progress is encouraging.

Polonsky, M., Aykanian, A., Records, J., & Larkin, H. (2014). Strengthening homeless services: Funding streams and emerging opportunities in Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Available for download here.

Reliable funding streams to help people experiencing homelessness are greatly needed. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the ACA) and Medicaid offer substantial opportunities for such funding. This is made possible primarily through the optional expansion of Medicaid and adoption of Medicaid waiver services and state plan amendments.

With this paper, we provide information about Medicaid and non-Medicaid provisions that states can implement to increase access to services and to expand the types of services available to people experiencing homelessness. This includes components established by the ACA as well as pre-existing provisions. We also present examples of how some states have already taken advantage of these opportunities. Finally, we provide homeless service agencies with guidance on how best to advocate for change in their state.

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