Youth and Young Adult Services Committee Minutes – 11/20/19

In attendance: Emily English, Gandara Center, Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Leslie Fisher-Katz, Children Study Home, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Ann Lentini, Domus, Amanda Lesnick, Gandara, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/CoC, Peter Miller, City of Westfield, Nural Mohammed, CHD, Jordana O’Connell, CHD, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical Center, Stacy Parsons, North Adams Public Schools/DESE, Michael Perez, Impact Center, Mena Regan, CHD, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Tyrese Tillman, CHD, Catherine Torres, CSO/FOH

Committee Name Change! We decided that we would change our committee name to be consistent with how young people prefer to be named, i.e., “Youth and Young Adult” so our committee is now the Youth and Young Adult (YYA) Services Committee.

Training update: The Network is sponsoring a training on state budget and policy-making: how it all works.  January 28, 2020, 9:30 am – 12 noon, Kittredge Center, HCC. Please Register here.

Racial equity work:  The Network Steering Committee is allocating its training funds to racial equity work – $37,000 total, divided between the Hampden CoC ($20K) and the Three County CoC ($17K).  It will be utilized to augment the youth work that is happening through YHDP so will focus on the youth population. The MA Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) is also allocating some funds for studying racial disparity in 3 or 4 communities across the state (likely including Springfield as one).  Hampden County will be enlisting Marc Dones of National Innovation Service and Jeff Olivet, a consultant, on this work and will also be adding some of its own funds to the work.  Three County is still in the process of determining the best use of its Network funds.  The hope is that NIS will start work on the EOHHS study ASAP which could inform the work in our region.   This work will not be completed before the HUD YHDP plan is due but it will be noted that it is underway and will be useful as the work moves forward.

Discussion re: family engagement: how do we work with families to prevent homelessness and promote reunification (per YHDP planning)

The group had a general brainstorm on the challenges facing families with adolescent youth and young adults.  A bulleted summary of the observations and ideas raised is below:

  • there are instances in working with adjudicated youth where the relationship is not repairable, and it is simply not possible to reunite with families – families may not be willing to communicate anymore; DV can also be a factor – when a client hurts a parent – parents are too afraid
  • parental mental health issues are also a challenge – their issues may require the youth to take action and then the youth becomes labeled the “delinquent” 
  • substance abuse and mental health are core issues 
  • single parents who can’t afford the rents cause family rupture
  • traumatized parents are required to parent teens which is inherently difficult even without trauma;  managing youth traumatized behavior is too much, so the teen ends up in a system 
  • a best case scenario may well be for the teen to maintain connection without returning to the home
  • young adults have limited skills and education so can’t get well-paying jobs and can’t afford rent
  • lack of mentorship and guidance
  • lack of transportation is huge – can’t get to jobs – youth are forced to quit because they can’t get there
  • clients try to go for jobs that pay the most (manufacturing jobs) – outside of Springfield area – living in Spfld, trying to get to Agawam and Westfield and they can’t maintain the transportation – there are efforts to keep them local even though less pay so they can build and save and then move on
  • family support programming – reunification plans focus on kids ages 8 and under – indicates the lack of info and support on parenting adolescents 
  • we need resources to identify people most at risk and keep returning to them to check in – do we have enough info on a family to determine that they are high risk
  • “We know these families” -we throw resources at them – put families into a place where we “tsunami” them and then it’s overwhelming to them and then they can’t respond to it all and then we accuse them of failing to respond
  • should we consider using family PSH model as a model for this work – let’s find out how that system is working – explore how many were teens or became teens since funding occurred – 
  • early warning system is lack of attendance in school – how do we approach the problem – “your kid isn’t showing up” or “how are you?” 
  • Gandara: 25 PSH in recovery program – case managers touching them weekly 
  • we need targeted case management for young adults
  • Trauma informed care would be useful! Ruby Payne – Bridges Out of Poverty – important leader on this work.  Limitations on making change with big state systems.
  • Learn more about STRIVE model (out of CA, being utilized in CT)

Next meeting agenda: bring in PSH family programs – CHD, VOC and Gandara. Outreach to appropriate staff will take place (Jordana, CHD; Gerry, VOC and Gandara).  
Next meeting date: 12/18, 9:30-11 am, Frost Building, 309, HCC