Exploring the Association Between Housing Insecurity and Child Welfare Involvement: A Systematic Review

Rong Bai, Cyleste Collins, Robert Fischer, Victor Groza & Liuhong Yang - Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal


Housing insecurity and involvement with the child welfare system are common experiences for low-income families. To date, previous empirical studies on family housing insecurity have focused on the most severe form of housing insecurity (i.e., entering the emergency shelter) and its association with foster care placement of the children. However, we know relatively little about the relationships between other forms of housing insecurity and types of child welfare involvement. This study, a systematic review, examines various forms of housing problems and their relationship to different types of child welfare involvement. Five electronic databases were searched and a total of 12 studies were included in the review. Overall, research findings indicated mixed findings. Most studies suggested that housing insecurity was associated with child maltreatment investigation, foster care placement and prolonged time before achieving case closure, while some studies found no relationship between housing insecurity and child maltreatment substantiation. The findings have implications for practice and research for families who experience housing insecurity and child welfare involvement.