Category Archives: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 10/8/14

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
October 8, 2014

In attendance: Pamela Cook, Gandara Center, SHINE program; Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF; Sarah Kline, North Adams Public Schools program, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, SHINE program; Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Mark Watkins, Gandara Center, SHINE program

Youth Count Report Discussion:

MA Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth recently released its report on the first Youth Count. Click here to obtain a copy of the report.  Both Hampden County and Three County CoCs did a great job with this initial round of surveying. We gave an extra nod to Hampden County for collecting close to the highest number of surveys in the state!

The report acknowledged, and we validated, that the number of youth surveyed and found homeless by HUD or state definitions, is an under-count of the population.   It can be very difficult to access this population and this first effort is a great building block for increasing that access and to demonstrating the needs of this population. Probably the greatest success was the building of an infrastructure that allows us to increase the quality and quantity of data for the next round.

We discussed how we are eager to get back from DHCD the CoC-specific data so we can analyze it more closely on a local level (the state report offered aggregated results).

Lizzy Ortiz shared that she attended HUD’s webinar on youth count and what she learned only underscored how well we did in our count (i.e., we already did much of what they suggested).

Lizzy noted that HUD made clear that from a federal perspective, there are no barriers to involving schools in the count and survey. We all acknowledged that addressing this barrier on a state level is critical to obtaining a more accurate and meaningful count. We will continue to discuss this with Sarah Slautterback of DESE and Liz Rogers of ICHH.

Planning for 2015 Youth Count:

We assume the count will take place between the week of 1/26-1/30 (subject to confirmation).

Hampden County:
Lizzy reached out to Catholic Charities for MSW intern who will support the count. She intends to expand their outreach to include the Springfield/Holyoke/Chicopee police departments; and the juvenile court system; probation department. We discussed the SHINE program as a potential resource for youth ambassadors, but acknowledged the challenge of transportation (a car is needed to deposit and collect surveys at various locations, etc.).

Three County: Lisa Goldsmith will connect with Dave Christopolis and Rebecca Muller around planning.

Brainstormed timeline for Youth Count:

Lizzy will send “master list” of survey participants to Pamela who will send to Lisa, Kim, Rebecca, Sarah (Kline) and Dave so all can review and brainstorm expansion

1st week of November: first contact via phone calls and emails o previous survey participants and potential new participants

1st week of December: provide the count plan, e.g., how it’s being conducted, the use of ambassadors, the incentives, etc.

Organize outreach events during count week (Hampden County only) first week of January – set location, sponsors, etc.

Next meeting: look at 11/18, following Holyoke liaison meeting (11 am). Pamela will follow-up with Jordana to confirm.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 9/10/14

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
September 10, 2014

In attendance: Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Pamela Cook, Gandara Center Shine Program, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Sarah Kline, North Adams Public Schools, Diana McClean, City of Westfield, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Slautterback, ESE, Alexis Warth, YWCA of Western Mass, Mark Watkins, Gandara Center Shine program

Report on Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth (Lisa Goldsmith):

Youth Count report (based on count conducted last January) – due to be released shortly, now in EOHHS for final edits. Initial indicators show that Western Mass. did a great job in collecting data. The legislature allocated $150,000 in FY15 to conduct its second youth count. The hope is to go farther into data analysis and evaluation and to release both funds and guidance with more time to do outreach and prepare.

The Commission’s “End of Year” report is in process now. It will highlight the gaps in services and make recommendations. The Commission is doing some exciting work with Simmons College, using their forecasting model to ascertain the cost of youth services across the state.

Advocacy Update:

We discussed the ongoing advocacy for House Bill 135 (to provide additional services for unaccompanied homeless youth). Pamela shared the latest email from the Mass. Coalition for the Homeless regarding their advocacy action (photo sharing) and all agreed to participate if possible and to contact their representatives in support of the bill. Youth programs will explore the possibility of enlisting youth participants in the advocacy as a learning tool as well.

Pamela will forward the Coalition email and info on how to contact your legislator.

Continue reading

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 5/28

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Minutes
May 28, 2014

In attendance:  Danielle DeBerry, ServiceNet, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Rani Gould, YWCA, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Karen Tracana, DYS

Advocacy Update:

Senate budget did not include provisions for unaccompanied homeless youth.  But now onto Conference Committee where we can advocate for House provisions to be included (funding for Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth; to fund programs for unaccompanied youth pursuant to House Bill 135, and for LGBTQ pilot project).  Both Senator Rosenberg and Vice-Chair Kulik are supportive of these programs.  We should contact them and our own legislators to urge support for these provisions in Conference Committee.

Program Updates:

Gandara Center (Shine, Kim Majewski):  one female resident just graduated from STCC – first resident to graduate from college – moving out of homelessness (to NJ for a job).  Good progress.

YWCA – Youth Build (Rani Gould): a GED (now HISET)/vocational program for 27 youth, ages 17-24 years old.  Housing not provided but case management provides overall support.  Program full now but new start every fall.  Rani will send materials to Pamela who will forward to the group.

Springfield Office of Housing (Lizzy Ortiz):  waiting list at Springfield Housing Authority for chronically homeless housing is very low.  If youth qualify as chronically homeless, they should get on this list!  Spread the word on this. Continue reading

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Minutes – 4/12/14; next meeting 4/16

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting
March  12, 2014

In attendance:  Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Rani Gould, YWCA of Western Mass., Sarah Kline, North Adams Public Schools, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS – Homeless Services, Diana McLean, Westfield CDGB, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator

Discussion of survey data:

Each CoC spoke with Liz Rogers of ICHH.  Shared feedback on experience (challenges of timing, surveying youth in winter, limits on involvement of the schools, lengthening time to give it).  Waiting for excel aggregations from Boston to do more with data in the region.

Hampden County:  Jean Rogers collated surveys (thank you, Jean!).  See attached.  A total of 195 surveys accounted for.  161 surveys not counted (failure to “qualify” based on answers, e.g., stayed in parent’s apartment last night).  Lizzy will forward excel sheet.

Three County:  Agreed that Pamela will connect Rebecca Muller with Diana re: survey compilation for Three County.  Diana is prepared to enlist an intern to assist.

Additional debrief on youth survey/count:

Sarah Kline of North Adams shared her concern around the under-representation of N. Berkshire County in survey.  Very last minute outreach, very few organizations involved.

All recognized that this is a function of insufficient resources allocated to the prep and outreach.  This is something that has to be addressed next time.

Jay Levy of Eliot:  a lot of the material was dropped off last minute.  Need at least a week’s lead-time to distribute materials.  Again, speaks to the same staff resource issue.

We discussed the issues preventing school involvement, e.g., confidentiality, liability concerns.  Agreed we should find a way to address these concerns without eliminating outreach to the entire school population (e.g., use a different identifier on the survey than initials plus birth date).

There is a Special Commission meeting on 3/27, Lisa will be attending and will raise the school issue.

Program updates:

Safety Zone Street Outreach (Jean Rogers, CHD):   new federal  grant that reaches out to unaccompanied youth to cover Springfield and Holyoke.  Walking streets, connecting with agencies, schools.  Targeting 18-24.  Will connect with Jay Levy’s street outreach person in Holyoke

Network legislative priorities:  Pamela updated that the Leadership Council voted on legislative priorities that include youth issues, specifically House Bill 135 and the related FY15 budget request for the Commission.   Click here to review.

Next meeting:

Wed., 4/16
10 am – 11:30 am
Parent and Community Engagement Center, Conference Room
91 School Street, Springfield