Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting
March 9, 2016

 In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Arlene Goad, Tapestry WIC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Charles Knight, SCARF/Rainville, Ann Lentini, Domus, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Peter Miller, City of Westfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rhonda Young, CHD

Hampden County Youth PIT 2016: – final report in process
DRAFT findings show 158 youth between ages 18-24 counted.

We saw a significant decrease in parenting youth in 2016 (down from 199 last year to 116 this year), reflecting the decrease in families in shelter overall (the number of unaccompanied youth has stayed fairly constant).

The vast majority of parenting youth are Hispanic females. 94% of parenting youth families are headed by single parent.

Unaccompanied without children: 57% Hispanic, 28% black

Of note: among youth population strikingly high percentage are Latino (57%, for parenting youth over 90%), a higher percentage than the rest of the population experiencing homelessness (37% among homeless individuals). This demographic shift (younger homeless population is more Latino) is worth looking into further to understand more and to ensure cultural competency in support.

The group is interested in clarifying the age and service breakdowns among the youth population, e.g., parenting youth under 21 are referred to DTA/DCF programs and therefore not counted in the PIT count (must clarify this). Therefore, is entire population of counted parenting youth those youth between ages 21-24, i.e., what is the gap in the PIT count vis-à-vis the reality on the ground of homeless parenting youth (how much bigger is the actual number).

We agreed it would be useful to talk to someone from a Teen Living Program. Pamela will reach out to the YWCA for the next meeting.

Statewide Youth Count Meeting – 3/8/16

A meeting was held yesterday in Worcester, convened by Kelly Turley and others working with the Statewide Commission, for CoC leads to gain strategies around outreach for the youth count. A panel of youth spoke and shared some useful insights, e.g., did not like being called “homeless” but instead a young person experiencing homelessness; that it is jarring to discover through the youth survey that they are “homeless” – a frightening label that they may not have ascribed to themselves.

The count and survey will take place from May 2 – May 15. The Commission is working with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, a policy research group, that is conducting more intensive analysis of youth through 10 sites nationally and Boston is one of them.

We agreed to make a priority of creating an opportunity to provide our input to the survey to make it more conducive to youth response and data analysis. Pamela and Lisa will reach out to Kelly Turley to launch a dialogue about this and learn how we can assist.

Lisa shared that the CoCs will be offered a $5,000 grant to pay for gift cards and stipends for youth ambassadors. Gerry noted that this amount was not sufficient to cover Hampden County expenses and wanted to brainstorm how to stretch it (e.g., reduce amount of stipends) or increase it (fundraise?). We will discuss this at our next meeting. Gerry will also consider how to approach the county outreach plan, creating a sub-group for Westfield and a sub-group for Springfield, Holyoke, and Chicopee.

We also agreed that it would be useful to offer providers and outreach people a sample script for engaging with youth around the survey. Lisa and Kim will develop a draft for the committee for the next meeting that the committee will review and discuss.

Three County Assessment Tool: Lisa shared that 3 County sub-committee has been formed to review and decide upon a sub-regional assessment tool. They are looking at the Arizona self-sufficiency matrix and Lisa wanted to get feedback about what vulnerability factors should be considered for young people. We agreed we would discuss that further at the April meeting.

Progress Report Event Debrief:
Following our progress report event on March 4, where we shared data on our progress in ending homelessness with all the other sub-populations (veterans, families, chronically homeless), Lisa suggested we look at the question of where we want to be a year from now on youth homelessness; what data do we want to provide and how do we want to capture our progress. We all agreed this is a great and important thing to do and consistent with our need to develop a work plan that includes clear goals by the end of this fiscal year.

Gerry pointed out the distinction between “outputs,” e.g., how many youth housed and “outcomes,” did we reduce the overall homeless population, are more people exiting homelessness than coming into it. We agreed we should look at both of these measures in the meetings ahead and arrive at our deliverables.

Next meeting dates:

Our next regularly scheduled meeting is on Tuesday, April 12, but it will be devoted to the training provided by John Rio on employment and youth homelessness (9:30-11:30 am, HCC, Kittredge Center, register here).

Because of the approaching youth count, we will meet to discuss the agenda items noted above on Monday, April 4, 11 am – 12:30 pm, Gandara Center, 1236 Main Street (Route 5), Holyoke

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