Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting
November 8, 2017
In attendance: Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc., Melvin Malave, ROCA, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks, Kelly Patchell, ROCA, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Jennifer Wands, Springfield Public Schools
ROCA: Melvin and Kelly shared news about their program, including the opening of a Holyoke location at 63 Jackson Street (the same space as the former Holyoke SSYI program, which ROCA is now managing). ROCA serves young men ages 17-24 who have had direct criminal justice involvement. ROCA is also starting a young mother’s initiative in Springfield for 35 mothers ages 16-24 years old who are high-risk (e.g., DCF involvement or housing unstable)
CHD – Jean announced the funding of their Transitional Living Program that will provide scattered site apartments to 5 youth ages 18-22 years old. Program started October 1.
Gerry noted that she will bring together all Hampden County youth programs to discuss how best to implement coordinated entry among these programs.
Network funding and future update
Pamela reported to the group the Network funding status: by all accounts the Network’s earmark will not be funded (unclear whether the Senate overrode the Governor’s veto but regardless the message from the Governor’s office is to hold off on releasing funds for any earmarks). She reported that at the Network’s last Leadership Council meeting, the Leadership Council decided to use the next 2 months to plan for a new phase of the Network that would allow it to become self-sustaining through partners’ efforts. The interim steering committee is meeting on 11/20 to discuss further, including the possibility of retaining a consultant to facilitate a review of the Network’s functions and how best to preserve what is most useful to the region. Pamela will facilitate in the committee meetings discussion of what each committee would like to preserve and how. Pamela expressed her conviction that through careful planning the Network can continue without paid staff. Veterans and individual services committees have already expressed their intention to do so.
The youth committee discussion segued into the challenge of youth leadership development since that priority may intersect with the Network committee evolution.
Youth leadership development:
The group discussed next steps following last month’s youth engagement training. How best to make meaningful progress around youth involvement and leadership?
Rebecca noted that with SAMHSA funds 2 new youth drop-in centers are opening, one in Springfield and one in Worcester. All agreed that the challenge is to go to where youth already are as opposed to inviting them to a meeting. We need to meet youth in an environment where they already feel they belong and are in a position to advise adults in the field what it is they need and want. We brainstormed this challenge for a while with no clear outcomes but a clear identification of the challenges! We agreed we would continue this discussion at our next meeting. Meanwhile:
- Program leaders (Kelly, Jean, Sharon) will reach out to their youth programs and young people involved to ask for their feedback
- Gerry and Pamela will reach out again to DCF and DYS to recruit their involvement in this effort
- Gerry will explore the possibility of Davis Foundation funding to support youth training and leadership development
Advocacy on Act to Provide Identification to Homeless Youth and Families:
Pamela shared the sponsorship request from MA Coalition for the Homeless on Senate Bill 1906/House Bill 2737, an Act to Provide Identification to Homeless Youth and Families. There was unanimous agreement that this bill is extremely important to young people who frequently face the barrier from not having access to standard identification. Pamela will report back sponsorship and send out the advocacy alert to all in the Network.
Next meeting: Monday, December 11, 3-5 pm, HCC (Rosemary will report back on available space).