This project explored the support needs of adults with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) within the episodically and chronically homeless population and the impact of FASD on service utilization, program compliance, and housing outcomes within the Calgary System of Care. FASD is a disability caused by prenatal alcohol exposure and can impact a person’s functional ability with regards to memory, planning, and understanding cause and effect. Individuals with FASD may be seen as non-compliant in housing programs and thus end up cycling through homeless shelters, housing programs, and other systems. This report explores the phenomenon of FASD and homelessness and provides some insight into the care needs of this population through highlighting their lived experience and through the reflections of service providers. Further, specific recommendations are made to enhance a FASD informed model of care that contributes to knowledge and practice within the homeless serving sector.
This project explored the support needs of adults with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) within the episodically and chronically homeless population and the impact of FASD on service utilization, program compliance, and housing outcomes using both qualitative and quantitative measures. This research was conducted in partnership by the Calgary Homeless Foundation and the Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary (U of C) and ethics approval obtained through the Conjoint Faculties Research Ethics Board at the U of C. This mixed methods study conducted qualitative interviews with adults with FASD (N= 16) and service providers (N=19), comprised of front line staff/policy makers/experts in housing and FASD sectors; and quantitative analysis of the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) data specific to FASD (N=2437). It is hoped that this research will contribute to the development of a FASD-informed model of care with a goal of promoting appropriate and sustainable housing that recognizes and supports the individuals’ needs and disabilities.
The key recommendations focus on increased awareness of FASD, the need for training and education on FASD, effective screening for FASD, mentorship to support prevention, FASD specific housing supports, a complex case management approach including assertive outreach strategies to promote housing stability, increased cultural connections, gender based supports for maternal health, sexual health, advocacy work and systems navigation supports.