Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting
August 19, 2015

In attendance: Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Rani Gould, YWCA, Sarah Kline, Adams Schools, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Diana McLean, Westfield, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Alicia Stacy, YWCA 

Discussion of Youth Count Surveys and Assessments:

Andrea Miller, the Three County CoC data analyst, collated the youth point in time count surveys and assessments collected across the entire region (both Three County and Hampden County CoCs) to provide a more in-depth analysis. They can be found here:

  1. All survey participants14-24 years old
  2. Homeless survey participants14-24 years old

Andrea noted that working with this data continues to be a challenge due to 1) the problems and limitations inherent in the survey design; and 2) the large number of invalid and/or ineligible surveys that are collected, input, and provided to us.

She also noted that there are fixes that could be applied so that we could collect better data with less effort, report out our local results sooner, and have more confidence in our interpretations of the results.  She is interested in submitting comments and recommendations to DHCD via this Network Committee.

The Committee expressed great appreciation to Andrea for her work and its desire to participate in this effort.

It was also noted that state funding had been allocated for the last 2 years to fund a state staff person to support the Youth Count (and the Youth Commission) as a whole but that this hire has not taken place. The lack of a designated staff person for this effort has very real consequences on follow-through and outcomes.

Andrea talked through her analysis and the goal to distinguish among youth who are currently homeless, ever been homeless or never been homeless. The value of the survey information bears on understanding the status of the population surveyed. Roughly ½ of the surveys were completed by those youth who did not call themselves homeless. The survey should be structured to better screen for the status at the outset. For youth, “doubled up” is not necessarily clear enough around determining homelessness.

Andrea will summarize her recommendations for modifications and will send to the Committee for feedback. Pamela will also send it to Kelly Turley of Mass Coalition for the Homeless since she is a key liaison in this effort statewide.

Pamela will post youth reports on the Network blog.

Andrea noted that the driving framework for this survey should be: what do we want to learn from the people surveyed and how would it bear on what we can do about it?

Sarah Kline noted that her most pressing need is referrals to housing. She needs places for youth to go.

Lizzy Oritz noted that an important factor is being able to determine if we can follow-up with the person surveyed to help connect him/her to appropriate services.

Coordinated Assessment Discussion

We discussed our agenda of developing a coordinated assessment process for youth entering the system at any door, e.g., a food pantry or a shelter. We also noted that for the Three County area, a coordinated intake system may look different because there are 3 different “micro-systems” within each county.

We agreed that the goal is to develop a coordinated intake that would intersect with the other coordinated assessments being developed across other sub-populations, e.g., veterans, pregnant/parenting teens.

We agreed to start with a few immediate screening questions:

  1. Are you homeless or at risk of homelessness?
  2. What is your age?
  3. Where are you located?

Then we agreed to create a one-pager that effectively “assessed” via a list of resources available (better to reach youth this way with the question: are any of these services a match for you?), e.g., veterans resources, substance abuse resource, pregnant/parenting teen resources, transitional housing resources

One clear audience for this resource sheet would be the school liaison/guidance counselors – providing assistance in reaching youth in schools (we know that our PIT count captures only the smallest fraction of kids who are listed as homeless based on school data)

Lisa will start with draft ideas and send to sub-group of Jean, Kim and Rani for further development and we will circulate prior to the next meeting.

Next meeting:

Wed., 9/9, 10 am, location to be confirmed

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