Services for the Homeless
A study of the short-term effectiveness of services for homeless individuals
and families was completed, under the direction of Ruth Fangmeier, M.S.W.
These were clients of JBFCS Services to the Homeless program under the
direction of Pinches Berger, A.C.S.W., Director of Special Programs.
Caseworkers established service goals for clients at intake, and the
researcher conducted follow- up interviews with 85 clients three months
later to determine their level of service goal attainment. The sample
showed the characteristic heterogeneity of the homeless population with
respect to personal and historical variables. These factors, however,
were not found to be significantly related to goal attainment. Instead,
addressing psychiatric/emotional service needs was found to be an important
means of effectively engaging clients to the extent that clients were more
likely to return for follow-up and maintain contact with the service provider.
The findings of this study have direct application to providing social
services to homeless persons. Workers who develop initial service
plans for persons who are homeless need to review cases after housing has
been secured to assess needs and establish goals other than housing.
It is incorrect to assume that clients who have been periodically or chronically
homeless are already known to social service providers.
The differential assessment strategies on which the comprehensive service
plan is based must include the history of homelessness and the composition
of the case, referring to individual or family. These two variables
influence the range and type of service needs among homeless clients.
Adjustment following a period of homelessness requires long-term, periodic
contact with social service providers. However, many clients are
lost to follow-up because the client's primary connection was to the provider
of the housing per se. In order to provide long-term services and
to assess the effectiveness of the service plan, homeless clients need
to be tracked at the site of their housing.
This study was funded by the New York State Department of Social Services,
Local Initiative Grant.
Under direction of Dr. Ruth Fangmeier
The study was described in the 1990
Practice & Research.