Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Working Group Meeting: 2/10/12

In attendance:  Marge  Barrett-Mills, Hampshire County Friends of the Homeless, Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Danielle DeBerry, ServiceNet, Jean George, CHD Safety Zone, Lisa Goldsmith, DialSelf, Charlie Knight, concerned citizen, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Wanda Rolon, ServiceNet, Pamela Schwartz, network coordinator, Sarah Slautterback, DESE, Rani Turner, Treehouse Foundation

Group’s kick-off exchange on why we’re here and what we want from this group:

Charlie Knight:  sees the pain of homeless youth and the damage it inflicts.

Danielle DeBerry:  runs two adult shelters – see kids come in and sees their vulnerability.  Hopes to gather tools about how best to serve youth who don’t have family; how to keep them safe, how to address to their needs.

Jordana O’Connell:  as homeless liaison, when guidance counselor contacts, very few resources.  Not sure what to do.  Tries Safety Zone, double –up, last resort, go to shelter, knowing it’s not the appropriate place.  Wanting to come up for more alternatives; there has to be more.  We need to be able to provide more for our kids.

Shannon Barry:  after doing outreach, getting flood of students coming in but nothing to offer – best referral is terribly inadequate, to find a friend or family member to double-up.

Marge Barrett-Mills:  Start to gather stories to bring to state, to make case for more resources.  To look at alternative housing that offers something between foster care and independent living – some congregate living.

Joan George:  CHD, runs TELP program – 7 placements –  gets calls every day but no place to refer to them.  Encourages doubling up.  Here for more resources.  Also wants to advocate for affordable housing when they leave the program.

Lisa Goldsmith – DialSelf – provides range of services , very few beds, has a bunch of people on waitlist.  Sometimes finding family and friends can help.  Examine options out there, bring it to family services.  What as a network can we do to increase resources?

Sarah  Slautterback:  comes from state agency, gets calls from schools when no place to stay, 6,000 unaccompanied homeless youth, schools identify a little under 1,000 of them – many barriers to self-identifying.  Things happening in other parts of the state, wants to support things in this region.

Rani Turner:  Wants to do whatever she can to help with issue.

Difficult to do outreach when you can’t deliver with resources.  What are we offering?

How to build resources?

Sarah:  can help with data and stories to provide support for claim for more resources

Rani:  need to identify population and their needs.  If they’re staying under radar, it’s because they don’t feel there is anything to serve their needs.

If legislation on commission moves forward, very important to have Western Mass. representation.  Since a different experience here than in other parts of the state.

DCF also belongs in the room – reach out to Paul Fitzsimmons. Funding coming down for kids aging out – huge correlation between aging out and homeless youth.

DYS also in the room?  Joan will investigate via CHD.

Partnership with housing authority in Greenfield for Section 8 based units.  Housing authorities can be very important.

DCF and DMH will be partnering to issue RFRs for all their residential programs.  Probably in March.  May be an opportunity to target for unaccompanied youth.

CoCs are another resource (e.g., Gandara Center through Springfield CoC).

Next steps:

  1.  Will participate in MCH advocacy calls on 2/14 and enlist a few others to do so.
  2. Will invite DCF, DMH, DYS to next meeting
  3. DialSelf and ServiceNet will connect on in-service training on dealing with youth entering shelters.

Next tentative meeting date:  Wed., 3/28, 11 am, subject to whether DCF can attend.


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