Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
October 8, 2014

In attendance: Pamela Cook, Gandara Center, SHINE program; Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF; Sarah Kline, North Adams Public Schools program, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, SHINE program; Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Mark Watkins, Gandara Center, SHINE program

Youth Count Report Discussion:

MA Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth recently released its report on the first Youth Count. Click here to obtain a copy of the report.  Both Hampden County and Three County CoCs did a great job with this initial round of surveying. We gave an extra nod to Hampden County for collecting close to the highest number of surveys in the state!

The report acknowledged, and we validated, that the number of youth surveyed and found homeless by HUD or state definitions, is an under-count of the population.   It can be very difficult to access this population and this first effort is a great building block for increasing that access and to demonstrating the needs of this population. Probably the greatest success was the building of an infrastructure that allows us to increase the quality and quantity of data for the next round.

We discussed how we are eager to get back from DHCD the CoC-specific data so we can analyze it more closely on a local level (the state report offered aggregated results).

Lizzy Ortiz shared that she attended HUD’s webinar on youth count and what she learned only underscored how well we did in our count (i.e., we already did much of what they suggested).

Lizzy noted that HUD made clear that from a federal perspective, there are no barriers to involving schools in the count and survey. We all acknowledged that addressing this barrier on a state level is critical to obtaining a more accurate and meaningful count. We will continue to discuss this with Sarah Slautterback of DESE and Liz Rogers of ICHH.

Planning for 2015 Youth Count:

We assume the count will take place between the week of 1/26-1/30 (subject to confirmation).

Hampden County:
Lizzy reached out to Catholic Charities for MSW intern who will support the count. She intends to expand their outreach to include the Springfield/Holyoke/Chicopee police departments; and the juvenile court system; probation department. We discussed the SHINE program as a potential resource for youth ambassadors, but acknowledged the challenge of transportation (a car is needed to deposit and collect surveys at various locations, etc.).

Three County: Lisa Goldsmith will connect with Dave Christopolis and Rebecca Muller around planning.

Brainstormed timeline for Youth Count:

Lizzy will send “master list” of survey participants to Pamela who will send to Lisa, Kim, Rebecca, Sarah (Kline) and Dave so all can review and brainstorm expansion

1st week of November: first contact via phone calls and emails o previous survey participants and potential new participants

1st week of December: provide the count plan, e.g., how it’s being conducted, the use of ambassadors, the incentives, etc.

Organize outreach events during count week (Hampden County only) first week of January – set location, sponsors, etc.

Next meeting: look at 11/18, following Holyoke liaison meeting (11 am). Pamela will follow-up with Jordana to confirm.

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