Category Archives: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 9/13/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting
September 13, 2017

In attendance:  Rosemary Fiedler, Thrive HCC, Sohanda Failla, CHD, Lisa Goldsmith (by phone), DIAL/SELF, Natalie Hill, Gandara SHINE, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Natalie Kyles, Gandara SHINE, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc. , Cindy Maddison, HCC, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Emily Nolan (by phone), HUD TA, Jean Rogers, CHD,  Pamela Schwartz, Network, Marie Thoppe, HCC Transition to College

A framework for our efforts right now:

Gerry McCafferty, as liaison of the Hampden County CoC, provided a backdrop for our planning effort.  The initial impetus for this planning was a HUD youth services grant – a first application was submitted last year and while the CoC scored well, it was just shy of getting selected; and now the promise of a second round of HUD funding for which the CoC will apply (the RFP is not out yet).

The goal, however, is larger than the submission of any one application.  It is to take an in-depth look at our current youth services homelessness system, determine what is working and what isn’t, what, where and how we need to invest to close the gaps and what it would cost and how best to allocate any funds.

We can learn from other efforts in other cities and states.  Gerry provided us a copy of Washington, DC’s 5 year plan to end youth homelessness.  It offers an explicit breakdown of the contrast in outcomes from the “same old approach” to “after Year One” (see p. 3).

We need to answer the questions: What do we know? What are we missing? How do we do the necessary outreach to ensure complete information? How do we determine what is needed?

Gerry will map out the various “buckets” of information needed to help us determine next steps. The buckets will include:

  • Data – what do you know?
  • Environmental scan – who is out there intersecting with this population?
  • Coordinated entry system: what is the current system of assessment/service; how do we integrate it into the overall coordinated entry system?
  • Promising models – what do we want to learn from?
  • Strategies and outcomes

Youth involvement

The group welcomed two HCC students to the committee.  Cindy offered the perspective that one of the biggest challenges for young people is time!  The time it takes to access services, transportation, public benefits.  The barriers are daunting.

The group agreed that we needed to hear more from youth and Cindy helped us frame a gathering in terms of “what could have made it easier for you” when faced with housing instability, a request for information as opposed to personal experiences (that they may not be inclined to share).

We agreed on the following:
Thursday, October 26
4:30-6:30
include pizza, gift cards (if available) and child care

Possible title:
Your Voice,
Your Housing Needs

Rosemary will see if HCC has space and whether offering child care is permissible.

Pamela will send out draft text and Natalie will do a draft flyer.

Gerry will reach out to MHSA to learn more about their youth led training (for adult providers and youth) and see if they can do a training here.

Gerry will produce an initial document around the “buckets” of work to be done for discussion at our next meeting.

Next meeting date:
Wed., October 11
4:00 – 5:30 pm
HCC Frost Building Bartlett Room (across from Frost Building 309, Board Room)

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 8/8/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting
August 8, 2017

In attendance:  Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Anna Cruz, TiLP program (CHD), Serena Daye, Rapid re-housing, Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC (Thrive), Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara Center, Natalie Hill, Gandara Center, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS Homeless Services, Natalie Kyles, Gandara Center, Jacqueline Lozada, RVCC/Holyoke SSYI, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks, Kathie Robies, RVCC/HSSYI, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Overview of purpose/goal of subcommittee:
Rebecca provided an overview of HUD’s new youth funding competition, and the Hampden County CoC’s process to complete a competitive application.  The CoC is receiving HUD funded Technical Assistance in support of the application.  The CoC applied last year and did very well (so as to earn the TA) but not quite well enough to be funded.  Certain weaknesses were identified in the areas of youth engagement and cross-sharing of data among state and other agencies.  The Network Youth Committee will provide the umbrella for this application process.
We welcomed two young people, Anna and Serena, who attended the meeting for the first time and welcomed their feedback around factors that could increase youth engagement.  Together we brainstormed:
  • ease of transportation
  • food
  • active engagement and recruitment – what is this, why become involved
  • use of an anonymous survey to collect background info and feedback around this meeting
Review of Hampden County data (Click here)
The group reviewed a summary of findings around youth homelessness in Hampden County.  Please see attachment.  We also reviewed the research that outlined the primary causes of youth homelessness:
  • Family instability
  • System involvement
  • Residential instability
  • Extreme disconnection from education, employment and support networks
And the youth sub-populations more frequently impacted by homelessness:
  • LGBTQ youth
  • Justice System Involved Youth
  • Child Welfare System involved youth
  • Sex Trafficked Youth
  • Immigrant and Refugee Youth
Gerry noted that parenting youth is also a significant sub-population in our region (106 parenting youth in last year’s Point in Time count), and is a factor in causing homelessness.
The group also briefly reviewed a summary of Gandara’s SHINE youth program findings (click here).
Next steps:
  • Anna will work with Serena to develop a survey for youth that would be utilized as part of an engagement strategy for this committee; she will relay to Jean at CHD and then Jean to Pamela for continued discussion within the committee in advance of the next meeting
  • Gerry will reach out to DCF and DYS to recruit representative attendance at their next meeting (Lisa suggested searching out the adolescent outreach staff at DCF)
Next meeting date:
Wednesday, 9/13, 4-5:30 pm, HCC, subject to Rosemary’s space inquiry.
Thanks to Jackie and Kathie for the use of their meeting space today.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 7/12/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting
July 12, 2017
 
In attendance: Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Pamela Cook, Gandara SHINE, Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC Thrive Center, Courtnee Godbolt, Friends of the Homeless, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara Center, Natalia Hill, Gandara, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS, Charles Knight, Rainville, Jacqueline Lozada, River Valley Counseling Center, Kim Majewski, Gandara, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Justin Mehl, BHN, Rebecca Muller, GrantsWork/Gandara, Jenniefer Murphy, YWCA, Emily Nolan (by phone), HUD TA, LaRue Pierce, STCC, W. Keith Rhone, FOH/CSO, Katherine Robles, River Valley, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Mark Watkins, Gandara, Rhonda Young, CHD
FY18 Budget Update:
Pamela reported the unfortunate news that the Conference Committee cut the youth services funding from $2 million to $675,000 for FY18.  The Governor is now within the 10 day period to sign or veto budget items. The group discussed the remaining possibility of the Governor proposing a supplemental budget in FY18 to close this funding gap (which is what occurred for part of the funding in FY17).   Pamela will keep the group posted on funding developments as they arise.
Also, please  click here for the complete list of Network priorities and how they fared in the FY18 Conference Committee budget.
HUD Technical Assistance Session on Youth Services Funding:
We were joined by phone Emily Nolan, a HUD TA provider based in Seattle, who is providing 32 hours of HUD funded TA services to the Hampden County CoC in support of its efforts to apply for the next round of HUD youth funding.  The CoC applied in last year’s round and scored high enough to qualify for this TA.  The goal according to Emily is to help the CoC think through its application for this coming round, first confirming it wants to apply and then using this time to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of its last application and what it can learn from both that and other communities’ efforts.
The logistics: HUD will be funding 11 CoC’s for approximately $43 million in total funding; 5 funded communities must be rural.  The application will be released in Sept/October and due in December.
Emily noted the strategic aspect of applying as a rural vs. urban community (urban more competitive; may be worth considering if expanding scope of region strengthens application). However, it was also noted that in view of HUD funding only 11 programs nationwide, 2 separate applications from this region would not be a successful strategy.
HUD’s primary criteria for this initiative:
  • Youth engagement: how is the CoC empowering youth to be involved in the decision making; how are their voices being heard in what they think will help them be most successful
  • Innovative ideas: what does that mean for our community; what will make a meaningful difference
  • Coordinated approach: how is the effort tied to the over-arching goal of building a coordinated entry system; who are we engaging and bringing to the table in this effort, e.g., child welfare, juvenile justice, schools, new community members, low-barrier transitional housing resources
  • Data development: how well do we know our data, understand the gap within our system; what are the true numbers and how are they informing a right-fit intervention
  • Learning from other communities: how are we gaining from best practices across the country, e.g., Austin, LA, Cleveland and their significant progress on youth engagement
Emily is available to help connect us to peer learning and other best practice resources.
Data Discussion:
Emily reported that the CoC’s application received lower scores on data and evaluation.  She suggested reviewing:
  • how are we acquiring and analyzing data across systems, e.g., child welfare and juvenile justice systems – who is aging out, at risk of coming into the system; how are we creating capacity for a predictive analysis in order to create front-end interventions
  • how are we closing data collection gaps for non-HMIS providers, ensuring all relevant data gets into HMIS regardless of program’s funding source
  • how are we connecting with the school population above and beyond McKinney-Vento liaisons
  • how is our data stored and maintained and how is it being utilized on an ongoing basis
  • how are our by-name lists – youth, veterans, chronically homeless – being integrated and managed so that the information is streamlined and available across populations
In summary, the CoC must demonstrate: the breadth of its information, how it is shared, and how it is used to make its funding and programmatic decisions.
The group brainstormed various action steps:
  • Further outreach with DCF and DYS, Safe and Successful Youth Initiatives (SSYI) in Holyoke and Springfield
  • Further outreach with DEES (Sarah Slautterback) re: training school staff on data input
  • Further outreach to mental health and substance use providers (e.g., Gandara’s new Cornerstone program)
  • Outreach to Westfield State College staff person Jennifer Propp who is working on homeless youth data collection
  • Further outreach to LGBTQ programs
  • Further review of the non-homeless providers – who is missing
Youth Engagement Discussion
Youth engagement was another area on the CoC’s previous application that requires attention. Emily noted the criteria for meaningful youth engagement include:
  • Engaging with youth at the very start of the process
  • Keeping youth at the table all the time (experience with separate “youth advisory councils” have proven less effective at full engagement)
  • Ensuring youth are an active and critical part of the decision making process
Strategies for achieving these goals include:
  • Scheduling meetings at a time and place that are conducive to youth involvement
  • Treating youth participation as a paying job
  • Training both youth and adults in what it means to do business differently so that youth engagement is a top priority
Lisa Goldsmith noted that DMH has an excellent youth committee model (based in Boston) that could be helpful for us to explore as an example.
The group committed to pursuing these strategies.  Towards that end, the next meeting of this committee will be:
Tuesday, August 8
4 pm – 5 pm
River Valley Counseling Center (Holyoke SSYI program)
67 Jackson Street, Suite 201
Holyoke
Thanks to Jacqueline Lozada of the Holyoke SSYI program for offering her space.
Gerry will be following-up with others regarding action steps as listed above prior to the next meeting.
The group agreed that these Committee meetings will be utilized in the coming months (until application submission) to develop the strongest possible application which in effect is to develop the strongest possible response to youth at risk of or experiencing homelessness, a response that can benefit the entire Western region.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Minutes – 5/25/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
May 25, 2017

In attendance: Courtney Godbolt, Friends of the Homeless, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS, John Lewis, Springfield Police/Shannon Grant, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Jenny Mills, Youth Build, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Delphine Wray, Friends of the Homeless

Youth Count Debriefs:
The MA sponsored youth count took place over 2 weeks at the start of May.

Hampden County: Kim reported 3-4 events (boys and girls club, STCC, Dunbar, MLK) – STCC generated most contact with approx. 30 surveys. CHD organized an event at HCC which generated approx. 35 surveys.  Gerry reported over 100 surveys were completed from parenting youth residing at shelters.  This number is greater than last year (except the state has not yet released the results from last year’s surveys).  High school outreach was not particularly fruitful.  A couple of non-profit organizations complained that they felt tired of being asked to complete surveys without additional engagement.  This suggests the need for more sustained follow-up around the services that are available.

Hampshire County: Lisa reported that there were a couple of outreach events, one at ServiceNet, another in Greenfield.  She does not have outcome info as she was not directly involved in running these events. She noted that some of the youth that had interacted with ServiceNet had not been referred to DIAL/SELF, which points again to the need for sustained outreach (since it’s not just a matter of “knowing” about the resources are there but really about integrating their existence into the daily work).

Discussion of data collection and analysis as it pertains to understanding the status of the youth homelessness and the system response to it:We returned to question of what data would be useful for this committee to generate to best understand the over-arching questions:

  • how many youth are homeless?
  • how many are assessed?
  • how quickly and in what manner are they getting housed?
  • are they staying housed or returning to homelessness?

The broader goal is to determine the amount of youth homelessness and how effective our system is in responding to it and where the gaps lie.

We noted the limits of the State’s quarterly report requirements stemming from the youth grant since they are too detailed and too specific to the programs meeting their grant obligations.  The questions listed above require a combination of HMIS data and a by-name list (as successfully demonstrated by Hampden County’s coordinated entry efforts with chronic homeless and veterans; Three County has a coordinated entry retreat scheduled for 6/19). Gerry also noted the development of a new data warehouse for Hampden County that is in process that will greatly increase capacity to pull the data we are interested in.

Kim noted that Gandara Center is currently maintaining a list of youth that seek services but it is not formalized based on the questions listed above.  Gerry and Kim will meet to plan for the development of a list that is consistent with coordinated entry.  Lisa noted that DIAL/SELF’s youth workers each have a list of who they are currently working with but that is also not an overall cohesive by-name list and it also does not account for the people who are referred but do not make it into services.  This goes to the universal challenge of greater outreach and engagement services.

Another area to explore is the intersection between unaccompanied youth and parenting youth who are in the family shelter system – how do the two systems connect, e.g., an unaccompanied youth seeks services through Gandara and then later reveals having a child in the foster care system or at a relative’s home.

For next month’s meeting, we agreed that Gerry and Kim would report back on their meeting around a by-name list; Lisa would share any additional information/thoughts on reporting; we will further discuss the outreach to family providers working with parenting youth.

State Budget Update: The Senate Amendment to increase the youth funding to $4 million did not pass but the $2.5 million for youth is still in the Senate budget which is $.5 million over last year’s funding (and $1.5m over the House Budget).  Debate is still underway about language ensuring a Youth Commission.

New Youth Housing in Northampton:  Lisa announced the great news of the purchase of youth housing in Northampton.  Click here for the flyer.

Next Meeting Date: Wed., July 5, 10 am – 11:30 am, Holyoke Public Library