Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
March 11, 2015
In attendance: Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF; Rani Gould, YWCA, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network
Governor’s Budget Update: We reviewed Mass. Budget and Policy Center’s and Mass Law Reform Institute’s budget analyses and neither contained reference to unaccompanied homeless youth funding. Mass. Coalition for the Homeless had not yet released their analysis by the time of our meeting. We will keep everyone updated as soon as we learn more about whether the unaccompanied homeless youth initiative received any funding.
Youth Count and Survey Update: We are still waiting on DHCD to return the entered data from the surveys that were submitted. Hampden County collected 327 surveys (fantastic job, Lizzy and all!). Unclear on the Three County count (Pamela will follow-up with Dave). Pamela will email Rose at DHCD to find out who is in charge of the youth survey data compilation. Since Liz Rogers left DHCD, it is unclear.
Lizzy discussed how her interaction with Putnam High School in Springfield via the youth count has led to regular interactions with homeless youth there; the guidance counselor reaches out to Lizzy and Lizzy in turn provides information and connections to services and benefits to the youth. It’s a wonderful relationship with the school and also only underscores the gap in services that exist to the extent that Lizzy’s outreach is the only reason such services are available.
VI-SPDAT discussion: Lisa noted that it is difficult to use this tool with youth and at minimum it must be used in comparison with other youth. We all expressed interest in understanding more about the tool and if/how it has been applied to the youth population. There were also questions about the VI-SPDAT release form – how to share information between providers. Pamela will inquire about these questions and report back.
We also discussed the data challenges between the federal and state systems – how the HMIS must be connected to the RHYMIS system (Runaway Homeless Youth Management Information System) – and how this challenge has been going and is still unmet.
Pamela said she would touch base with Matt and Andrea (working on our regional Opening Doors Plan) to gain any insight about how to meet this barrier of data sharing.
Lisa reported that she spoke with Liz Rogers who is now at Father Bill’s in the South Shore. Father Bill’s is seeing a noticeable increase in the youth population. They are not a youth oriented facility although they apply “youth protocol” (e.g., more flexibility about hours, allowance of cell phones and keeping their same beds), but they are acutely aware of the need for more housing options for this population.
We discussed the data challenges between the federal and state systems – how the HMIS must be connected to the RHYMIS system (Runaway Homeless Youth Management Information System) – and how this challenge has been going and is still unmet.
Next meeting: Wednesday, 4/8 10 am 417 Liberty Street – special guest Danielle Ferrier from Youth Harbors who will discuss her work in the schools with homeless youth.