Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
January 8, 2014

 In attendance:  Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Ellen Broadhurst, West Springfield Schools, Dave Christopolis, Hilltown CDC, Viviana DeJesus, independent contractor consultant, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Candace Griffith, CHD, Sarah Kline, North Adams Public Schools, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc., Edwin Lugo, CHD, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Grantswork, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Keith Rhone, ROCA, Tyler Rousseau, Square One/Springfield College,

Unaccompanied Youth PIT/Survey Outreach and Preparation

Hampden County CoC update

Decided to use ICHH budget as follows:
gift cards for youth completing surveys
sponsor some events to bring youth together
youth ambassadors to help identify and reach out to other youth

They have identified at least 4 youth ambassadors thus far; have commitments from ARISE and Out Now to assist in Springfield.  Need to work on youth assistance outside of Springfield.

Holyoke Department of Community Development suggested Mayor may be involved with this effort – he may host a pizza party.

Still working on reaching out to Chicopee.

Westfield:  discussing use of community room in Meadows Apartments in Westfield for an event.

West Springfield:  Ellen conducted a lot of outreach but no takers for event or organizing.  CHD will help with West Springfield – they obtained a new grant for street outreach and will enlist these resources to get people to reach out to youth.

This Friday she will send a letter to all contacts asking for them to participate, will follow-up with calls, send packet of surveys week before, etc.

Three County CoC update

2 meetings thus far in Northampton, a team of people ready to go.  Still need to set up a parallel effort Amherst. (including outreach to Amherst Police officer assigned to work with at-risk youth).

Sub-group of Berkshire CoC – people poised in all 3 sub-regions for letter and directive.    Need to get out instructions. Still discussion about whether it would be worthwhile to do focus groups.

Franklin County:  in general looking for youth through standing networks and associations (as opposed to organizing events, etc.). Will also do outreach at GCC job fair.

There was group discussion of whether the state would be providing a standardized letter of introduction to groups.  Agreed that we should move forward on the assumption that we are to produce this.  Gerry volunteered to draft the cover letter.  All agreed on this general timeline:

  • Cover letter drafted by the end of this week, out early next week
  • Next 2 weeks: follow-up calls/emails to ensure receipt and commitment to participate
  • Week in advance of count on 1/29, mail packet surveys and instructionsStandardized letter? Will state provide?

We still need to figure out how surveys are returned.  Lisa will follow-up with ICHH to obtain clarification around Scantron for data entry or any other state coordinated plans.

Discussion of training for youth count:

First, Gerry provided an overview of the various trainings for the various purposes:

PIT training scheduled for 1/23: targeted for providers of emergency shelter, transitional housing – training would be about clarifying definitions (e.g., chronic, veterans), counting adults vs. all members of households.  Focus on how to get the best data.

Training for people doing street counts: only for those people who go out on the night of the 29th.  More specific needs.  Jay Levy said he would coordinate with Dave Havens. Northampton’s PATH worker clear that they want to do it themselves in order to get most accurate information.

On question of whether a youth count training is necessary:  the goal is to build a network that will help identify homeless youth and their needs, to gain a better understanding of their challenges and how they access services, to establish a baseline and build awareness of the issue.  More important than a training per se is ensuring we reach the widest possible network and get surveys in hand to all who can distribute them.  Do not want to confuse youth outreach people by having them attend the general PIT training.

After discussion, agreed that instead of convening a youth training, we would produce clear instructions that provides guidance on how to conduct the survey.  The instructions will also address how to deal with literacy issues.

Additional outreach ideas:
Mental Health Centers, e.g.:
Three County:  CSO
Hampden County: BHN, Carson Center, Providence Hospital
Also Literacy Project, other literacy centers

Additional discussion:

Frustration around HUD’s definition that couch surfing is not considered homeless.  Something we want to follow-up about with HUD (but must wait until after this count).

Frustration around inability to use schools as resource to youth; recognition of confidentiality issue but desire to get creative about how to work within that constraint and still use the schools as a point of access.  Another issue to follow-up after this count.

Viviana deJesus would like more clarity about how o get in touch with people and get them more information.  Vivian, Lizzy and Gerry agreed to talk after the meeting. Also Viviana shared that she will be presenting on this initiative at the South Holyoke Neighborhood meeting tomorrow.

Lizzy Ortiz agreed to be the point person for name/contact information for people participating in the survey.  Send all contacts to Lizzy, and thank you, Lizzy!

Next meeting:  Wed. 2/12, 10 am, STCC, Square One

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