Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes
January 13, 2016

In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Pam Cook, Gandara Center, Dawn DiStefano, Square One, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Charlie Knight, SCARF/Rainville, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Alicia Stacy, YWCA, Mark Watkins, Gandara Center

Reviewed Point in Time Count youth outreach sheet:

Thanks to Andrea Miller for collating tips and creating outreach sheet (click here).

One edit: change bullet of “have other resources to hand out if the youth wants them, regardless of whether they participate in the count” to ”Distribute information on local resources.” Pamela will relay to Andrea.

Discussion of EHSS RFR:
EHHS has released an RFR (due 2/2) that will utilize the $2 million allocated for the youth services and housing in the FY16 budget. The RFR allows for up to 5 grants and requires that urban, rural and suburban regions are funded. An application must be paired with the larger coordinated entry application (3-5 grants, allocating $900,000 statewide) for the region.

The group discussed the issue of whether the Network would apply as the lead agency (via its fiscal sponsor United Way of Pioneer Valley) or whether 2 CoC’s would apply separately. The coordinated entry issue suggests CoC specific applications since the coordinated entry systems are being built separately as a result of the distinct populations and large geography across the sub-regions. Since the youth application must mirror the coordinated entry application for the geographic region, we may be compelled to do two separate applications for the youth piece. However, the CoC’s with Network support can collaborate on the applications to ensure a coordinated approach across the region.

A bidders’ conference on 1/15 will help answer a lot of questions about the best direction. United Way and CoC’s will be represented there.

We want to make sure we use the Network role and reputation in support of whatever we do. We want to make sure that we incorporate the regional flow of youth across the entire region in each application (assuming there are 2) and build systems that talk to teach other.

Community Action of Franklin/Hampshire and the Quabbin has expressed interest in being the lead applicant in the Three County CoC. They will be investigating further as well.

The RFR seeks focus on reaching the at-risk population further “upstream” – prevention and diversion. We need to identify the gaps and how we close them.

Other brainstorm ideas:

  • Consider funding a youth coordinator who serves as the designated liaison to resources and information and who has access to the flexible funds.
  • Explore more strategies about how to re-connect youth 18 and older with their families.
  • Explore more about the host home model and mentoring programs.
  • Connect more with (and possibly help build) Berkshire based youth programs, e.g., Reconnect Center in Pittsfield.
  • Integrate street outreach and coordinated assessment across each county (Dial/SELF now has funding to do street outreach in Hampshire)
  • Frame our “no wrong door” approach to triage case management across the region while at the same time developing expertise and centralized knowledge that agencies can draw on
  • Develop standard assessment tools and basis for distributing resources
  • Develop and utilize “natural” youth supports (as opposed to a volunteer inserting him/herself suddenly in a young person’s life); need to draw on and nurture pre-existing relationships

We will continue this conversation via email following the bidders’ conference this Friday.

Network FY17 Budget Priorities:

Pamela summarized the Network process for determining its FY17 budget priorities, which includes each committee making recommendations for Leadership Council consideration. The Leadership Council will review and vote at its next meeting on 1/20. These priorities will define the Network advocacy for the FY17 budget cycle.

Support funding for youth housing and related support services for $4 million. This priority is shared by MA Coalition for the Homeless and is a “repeat ask” from last fiscal year (which resulted in $2 million in funding). The Committee recognizes that the need continues and would like to see the full funding needed to meet the need.

Support Home and Healthy for Good for $3.8 million, a program that provides permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless, including a program for LGBTQ unaccompanied homeless youths, one of which is funded in Franklin County through Dial/SELF.   This priority is shared by CHAPA and MA Coalition for the Homeless.

Unanimous support for both legislative priorities.

Next meeting: Wed., Feb. 10, 9:30 am – 11 am, location to be determined (Gandara Center is not available then; will check with Northampton Senior Center).

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