Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
June 17, 2015

In attendance: Dawn DiStefano, Heidi Gold, Simtech Solutions, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Jean Rogers, Safety Zone, CHD, Diana McLean, City of Westfield, Pamela Schwartz, Network

 Draft Western MA Opening Doors Plan Review (click here)

  • Point in Time Count numbers for homeless youth need to be checked and corrected (e.g., Three County CoC youth number was in accurate – listed as 0, when 25 – will also cross check number for Hampden County)
  • Discussed inclusion of “youth parents” – those unaccompanied homeless youth under the age of 25 who are also parents of children. We agreed that targeting this population was also important and that strategies for this population should be included in the “family strategies” section.
  • We agreed the Plan should include the state Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) numbers of homeless youth. They are counted differently than the HUD definition – DESE includes “doubled-up” as homeless – so while they cannot be integrated into PIT count, our Plan should account for the fact that this data exists and provides an additional view of this population.
  • Another strategy to consider is breaking down the current barrier posed by DESE around gaining access to the schools for the PIT count. While some advances were made around that this past year, greater access and collaboration are needed to maximize getting both in and out of school youth in the annual count.
  • We discussed the various HMIS systems as it intersects with the Runaway Homeless Youth (RHY) HMIS system. The RHY is in the process of being integrated into the HMIS system – we agreed that this needs to be spelled out in the strategy section that refers to RHY and HMIS so it is comprehensible to the lay reader. It was also noted that RHY data goes straight from the local community to the federal agency requiring it; the state is nowhere in this data loop.
  • We discussed the multiple barriers to good data that exist across the system. For instance, Dawn shared how data is collected on the domestic violence beds at the YWCA that are funded by DCF. DCF only collects data on intakes and exits on a monthly basis. Right now there is no way of understanding the state systems clients used prior to entry into this one; and where are they re-entering the system after this one). The YWCA uses the HMIS system called Client Track.
  • Consider stating explicitly as a strategy (in every sub-population!) “enhancing coordination and collaboration among all state agency and non-profit providers.” It was noted that the homeless youth population intersect with so many state agencies; this point of collaboration is especially critical.
  • Add strategy of prioritization of the population for placement. Adopt a release of information that all providers can use for this purpose.
  • Heidi said she will get the matrix of providers that Andrea put together and share that with everyone.

Next meeting: Thursday, July 16, 11 am – 12:30 pm, Northampton Senior Center to be confirmed (not our usual day due to vacation schedules)

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