Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting
February 10, 2016
In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Charlie Knight, Rainville/former consumer, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS – Homeless Services, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks, Pamela Schwartz, Network
Update on State Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth:
Lisa reported that current discussions are indicating the Youth Count will take place between 5/2 and 5/15. A training date for CoCs and other participants is tentatively slated for 3/8 at Holy Cross (but no notice issued yet).
There was also discussion of having the youth survey available year-round in order to gain better data on the population.
Rebecca noted recent data obtained in the course of responding to the EOHHS RFR: over 50 youth stayed in Craig’ Door and the cot shelter in 2014 and 40 youth last year.
Gerry reported that in Hampden County, approximately 190 homeless youth were counted. For 18-24 year olds with children, that number was 577 in Hampden County. In Greenfield, that number was 53.
EOHHS RFR Update:
Gerry summarized the Hampden County CoC (City of Springfield) application: the CoC just released 2 RFPs, one to administer flexible funds, the other focused on youth services and housing. The RFP for youth is structured so providers can apply for all or parts of the system. The proposal includes 2 staff people, one targeted for youth stabilization (prevention) and the other for re-housing (currently in shelters); they would be the point people for getting information and resources out to all possible entry points.
Rebecca summarized the Three County proposal: Community Action is the lead (a good match since it is already the lead for ESG funds) and would continue to sub-contract with Berkshire Regional Housing Authority and work closely with Franklin County Regional Housing Authority as well.
On the youth side, Community Action would sub-contract with DIAL/SELF which would hire a youth outreach worker to do prevention and diversion work in each county; there would also be strong linkages with community colleges as there is increasing awareness of a growing homeless student population .
Our committee would be the connector for aligning policies and procedures across the region.
Rebecca proposed that we integrate into this committee a convening four times a year of a larger group invested in ending youth homelessness from a larger cross-section of the community. The meeting would have clear topics and goals for discussion. All agreed this was a great idea.
We agreed that developing and testing the assessment tool is a critical first step.
We agreed that developing data collection systems is also key. Gerry summarized two distinct goals around data collection: (1) to better understand the population and its needs; and (2) to implement a coordinated entry system that allows for scoring around need and determination of best allocation of resources. Gerry pointed out that the Hampden CoC is hoping to receive federal dollars this June that could be used to support the development of the necessary technology for this coordinated entry system. However, we will need to get started before June.
Gerry will reach out to Friends of the Homeless to do youth VI-SPDATs now and begin to analyze the findings. We also discussed utilizing HMIS as much as possible to streamline the data collection. We can draw on the experience of the Hampden County CoC’s partnership with DHCD in acquiring data, and specifically the assessment score, on chronically homeless families (which protected confidentiality).
Jay pointed out that especially with youth, the assessment score is a limited starting point and must be enhanced by on-the-ground feedback about a particular youth’s needs. Lisa is joining Jay Levy and Jay Sacchetti in looking at assessment tools and beginning to assess the best tool for the region, including the appropriate assessment tool for youth. It was agreed that there would be different stages of assessment depending on whether a youth needed prevention or diversion.
We agreed that it is important to start testing out tools ASAP, and not do extensive process independent of immediately collecting data and empirical feedback.
Next meeting date: Wed., 3/9, 9:30 am – 11 am. Location to be confirmed depending on available space (first try will be Gandara Center)