PHILADELPHIA â€“ Two University of Pennsylvania researchers from the Graduate School of Education and the School of Social Policy & Practice are leading an interdisciplinary effort to study the educational well-being of children in assisted-housing programs.
The study will examine and link individual student records and assisted-housing records to determine how children in various programs fare in terms of their academic achievement, educational attainment and behavioral adjustment compared to a group of children who do not reside in assisted housing.
During the next two years, with the help of a $1.275 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation Dennis Culhane and John Fantuzzo will conduct a study in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Michigan and Washington state, which all have both housing and educational data as part of their integrated-database systems
Each site has established and tested high-quality longitudinal data systems that integrate, or share, data across educational and human-services systems.
The research in Washington will be funded through a $275,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the others through the MacArthur grant.
Fantuzzo, a professor in the Graduate School of Education, is an expert in early childhood risk, early childhood education, Head Start programs, child maltreatment and family violence.
Culhane, a professor in the School of Social Policy & Practice, is an expert in homelessness and assisted-housing policy. His research has addressed housing emergencies and long-term homelessness among various populations, including vulnerable youth and young adults transitioning from foster care, juvenile justice and residential-treatment services.
â€śOne goal is to have the policy-relevant research inquiry of this study foster sustainable inter-agency communication and policy change,â€ť Culhane said. â€śAnother is to have this multi-site study become a model for how other municipalities and the states can use integrated data systems to answer critical questions in the areas of assisted housing and educational well-being.â€ť
â€śThe study is designed to be replicated in every state and local municipality by using publicly monitored data accessible to local and state government,â€ť Fantuzzo said. â€śEach step of this research process will be intentionally documented such that multi-site studies using integrated housing and education data could be replicated and scaled nationally should assisted housing data become available.â€ť
All five locations are members of the MacArthur-funded Intelligence for Social Policy network, which was established after these sites were identified in a 2008 national study done by Culhane and Fantuzzo to locate existing integrated-data systems. The project promotes the development of integrated-database systems by states and localities for policy analysis and systems reform.
â€śThis work represents meaningful collaborations between systems at multiple levels that foster the flow of information between researchers, policymakers and community supporters in the areas of housing and education,â€ť Culhane said.
The researchers hope the study will create or reinforce inter-agency dialogue surrounding the current state of assisted housing and education. They are currently working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to make assisted-housing data more readily available for research purposes.