Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Work Group Meeting Minutes
July 17, 2012

In attendance: Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Danielle DeBerry, ServiceNet, Paul Fitzsimmons, DCF, Lisa Goldsmith, DialSELF, Peg Keller, City of Northampton, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Jean Rogers, Center for Human Development, Pamela Schwartz, network coordinator

State Budget update:

Dept. of Children and Families:  ended up at $759 million, about $11 million short of Governor’s ask, a bit short of Senate version.  It leaves DCF relatively close to spending power of last year, but still loss due to increased costs.

Special Legislative Commission to study youth homelessness:  3 spots for providers.  Lisa Goldsmith is seeking one of them to represent rural areas.  Will be decided end of August.  Reviewed commission purpose: to study and make recommendations relative to services for unaccompanied homeless youth ages 22 and younger with goal of securing effective responses.  Focus includes:  analysis of barriers to LGBTQ youth, barriers to serving homeless youth under 18, assessment of impact of mandated reporting requirements, state’s ability to connect with unaccompanied youth.   Seeks recommendations for regulatory and legislative actions by 3/31/13.

Mass ICHH’s advisory group on youth homelessness – working with 2 sub-groups: (1) defining youth homelessness and (2) counting homeless youth.  Laying groundwork for Commission work.  In definition group, debate over “tiering” youth homelessness per US ICHH guidelines.  Some resistance in MA group to tiering in view of potential to lose youth “between the cracks.” In the process of working it out.

Discussion of Youth Protocol

Reviewed Father Bill’s and Main Spring Youth Protocol (adaptation of shelter policies to serve youth).

Application in this region?

Discussed youth resistance to shelter, even at the youth-focused CHD, the Safety Zone program, due to unfamiliarity, curfew, transportation, loss of the social network.

Safety Zone has 2 programs: (1) 17 and under, 15 day max stay in host home, depends on what’s available with foster families and (2) TILP – Transition Independent Living Program –  7 slots, up to 18 months.

ServiceNet:  already gives a lot of leeway with youth.  More verbal warnings prior to consequence.   Youth are a top priority when space is available.  Could consider targeted room assignments for youth so that youth are rooming with each (if 2 youth are there at the same time). Interfaith shelter is harder to adapt due to hours/set-up.

Peg Keller (City of Northampton):  consider youth focused center for services.  Issues with youth circulating downtown, nowhere to go, living in camps, business owners and public disturbed.  Wants to find more resources.

Discussed need to gather more data on our region’s youth population, specifically regarding the number of youth that present at shelters.  Danielle DeBerry (ServiceNet) offered this data: 27 18-22 year olds in last 12 months, approximately 9% of total population.  Danielle will search out comparison with previous years.

Agreed to do following::

  • Peg Keller will seek data from other shelters; will outreach to HMIS data analyst (Andrea Miller) to see if PIT count offers data.  Will also survey other shelters regarding needed services relative to youth.
  • Danielle will follow-up with more data searching from ServiceNet.
  • Pamela will reach out to Sprinfield Friends of the Homeless to have a meeting to learn more about their experience with youth.
  • We will bring to the next individual services meeting (9/27) the agenda item of developing a regional protocol to respond to homeless youth when they present at shelters.

Next work group meeting:
Wednesday, September 12
1:00 – 2:30 pm
Northampton Senior Center
67 Conz Street, Northampton

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