Category Archives: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Minutes – 6/17/15

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
June 17, 2015

In attendance: Dawn DiStefano, Heidi Gold, Simtech Solutions, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Jean Rogers, Safety Zone, CHD, Diana McLean, City of Westfield, Pamela Schwartz, Network

 Draft Western MA Opening Doors Plan Review (click here)

  • Point in Time Count numbers for homeless youth need to be checked and corrected (e.g., Three County CoC youth number was in accurate – listed as 0, when 25 – will also cross check number for Hampden County)
  • Discussed inclusion of “youth parents” – those unaccompanied homeless youth under the age of 25 who are also parents of children. We agreed that targeting this population was also important and that strategies for this population should be included in the “family strategies” section.
  • We agreed the Plan should include the state Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) numbers of homeless youth. They are counted differently than the HUD definition – DESE includes “doubled-up” as homeless – so while they cannot be integrated into PIT count, our Plan should account for the fact that this data exists and provides an additional view of this population.
  • Another strategy to consider is breaking down the current barrier posed by DESE around gaining access to the schools for the PIT count. While some advances were made around that this past year, greater access and collaboration are needed to maximize getting both in and out of school youth in the annual count.
  • We discussed the various HMIS systems as it intersects with the Runaway Homeless Youth (RHY) HMIS system. The RHY is in the process of being integrated into the HMIS system – we agreed that this needs to be spelled out in the strategy section that refers to RHY and HMIS so it is comprehensible to the lay reader. It was also noted that RHY data goes straight from the local community to the federal agency requiring it; the state is nowhere in this data loop.
  • We discussed the multiple barriers to good data that exist across the system. For instance, Dawn shared how data is collected on the domestic violence beds at the YWCA that are funded by DCF. DCF only collects data on intakes and exits on a monthly basis. Right now there is no way of understanding the state systems clients used prior to entry into this one; and where are they re-entering the system after this one). The YWCA uses the HMIS system called Client Track.
  • Consider stating explicitly as a strategy (in every sub-population!) “enhancing coordination and collaboration among all state agency and non-profit providers.” It was noted that the homeless youth population intersect with so many state agencies; this point of collaboration is especially critical.
  • Add strategy of prioritization of the population for placement. Adopt a release of information that all providers can use for this purpose.
  • Heidi said she will get the matrix of providers that Andrea put together and share that with everyone.

Next meeting: Thursday, July 16, 11 am – 12:30 pm, Northampton Senior Center to be confirmed (not our usual day due to vacation schedules)

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 3/11/15

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
March 11, 2015

In attendance: Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF; Rani Gould, YWCA, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Governor’s Budget Update: We reviewed Mass. Budget and Policy Center’s and Mass Law Reform Institute’s budget analyses and neither contained reference to unaccompanied homeless youth funding. Mass. Coalition for the Homeless had not yet released their analysis by the time of our meeting. We will keep everyone updated as soon as we learn more about whether the unaccompanied homeless youth initiative received any funding.

Youth Count and Survey Update: We are still waiting on DHCD to return the entered data from the surveys that were submitted. Hampden County collected 327 surveys (fantastic job, Lizzy and all!). Unclear on the Three County count (Pamela will follow-up with Dave). Pamela will email Rose at DHCD to find out who is in charge of the youth survey data compilation. Since Liz Rogers left DHCD, it is unclear.

Lizzy discussed how her interaction with Putnam High School in Springfield via the youth count has led to regular interactions with homeless youth there; the guidance counselor reaches out to Lizzy and Lizzy in turn provides information and connections to services and benefits to the youth. It’s a wonderful relationship with the school and also only underscores the gap in services that exist to the extent that Lizzy’s outreach is the only reason such services are available.

VI-SPDAT discussion: Lisa noted that it is difficult to use this tool with youth and at minimum it must be used in comparison with other youth. We all expressed interest in understanding more about the tool and if/how it has been applied to the youth population. There were also questions about the VI-SPDAT release form – how to share information between providers. Pamela will inquire about these questions and report back.

We also discussed the data challenges between the federal and state systems – how the HMIS must be connected to the RHYMIS system (Runaway Homeless Youth Management Information System) – and how this challenge has been going and is still unmet.

Pamela said she would touch base with Matt and Andrea (working on our regional Opening Doors Plan) to gain any insight about how to meet this barrier of data sharing.

Lisa reported that she spoke with Liz Rogers who is now at Father Bill’s in the South Shore. Father Bill’s is seeing a noticeable increase in the youth population. They are not a youth oriented facility although they apply “youth protocol” (e.g., more flexibility about hours, allowance of cell phones and keeping their same beds), but they are acutely aware of the need for more housing options for this population.

We discussed the data challenges between the federal and state systems – how the HMIS must be connected to the RHYMIS system (Runaway Homeless Youth Management Information System) – and how this challenge has been going and is still unmet.

Next meeting: Wednesday, 4/8 10 am 417 Liberty Street – special guest Danielle Ferrier from Youth Harbors who will discuss her work in the schools with homeless youth.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Minutes – 2/11/15

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes
February 11, 2015

In attendance: Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Lizzy Ortiz, Springfield Office of Housing, Jean Rogers, CHD, Sarah Slautterback, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Youth Survey

Hampden County update:

Due to the weather, the dates of the youth survey shift to Thursday, 1/29/15 to Thurs., 2/5/15

Surveys were in both English and Spanish. The survey was online this year (youth did paper/pencil). $10 gift cards for Dunkin’ Donuts were available for the youth that participated in the survey as an incentive. Soda and pizza were provided at the events that took place.

There were youth ambassadors to assist with the survey, 2 from ROCA and 1 from SHINE. They each received a $75 check for their assistance.

House of Colors, a group that works with LGBTQ youth 24 y.o. and under participated in the survey. They had an event at the Holyoke Public Library. 10 surveys came from this event

There were two other events, one at STCC, from which 10 surveys were returned, the other was at HCC and no one showed up.

Both Putnam and Commerce High Schools (Springfield) participated in the surveys.

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Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 1/15/15

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes
January 15, 2015

In attendance: Ellen Broadhurst, West Springfield Public Schools, Dave Christopolis, Hilltown CDC, Pamela Cook, Karen Cree, graduate student, WSPS, Gandara Center (SHINE program), Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Jean Rogers, CHD, Teri Rutherford, Hilltown CDC, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Legislative update:

Congratulations to all for the passage of the unaccompanied homeless youth bill! Now our work will begin on the funding legislation, and Pamela is in touch with Mass. Coalition for the Homeless around that advocacy, so please stay tuned. The Network’s Leadership Council is meeting next week and will presumably approve our continuing advocacy on this issue.

The new youth bill also included permanent authorization for the Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth (again, funding still needed), but this is a good development in terms of acknowledging the policy importance of this issue.

Review of Three County CoC Youth Count 2014 Analysis

Please click here to review. In sum: 59 youth surveyed. 39% staying Hampshire, 31% from Franklin, 31% from Berkshire.   42 unaccompanied adults, 12 parents with children, 3 under the age of 18. 70% non-Hispanic white; 20% identified as LGBTQ. 10 veterans.

Youth Survey/Point in Time Count Preparations

Online survey link now available:

Hampden County update:

Extensive outreach under way. Event at STCC on 2/2, 11:30-1:30, Building 13, Room 128, will provide pizza and drinks and service providers will be on hand as well to provide referrals, etc.

Also possible additional event at HCC, tentative date of 1/28, 11:30-1:30.

ROCA and Out Now are also holding events for their group members and participants. Will enlist “youth ambassadors” from these organizations to assist at events.

LGBT program 1/29, 4-6 pm, at Holyoke Public Library will also be a good outreach opportunity.

Using $10 Dunkin’ Donut gift cards as incentive for completing survey.

ROCA will be holding an event; Out Now will also be holding an event; transformation project – organization that works with first generations – 5 homeless youth – will provide survey and gift cards to them

Three County CoC: Franklin County: Lisa Goldsmith has reached out to everybody on the list from last year. Community Action and Dial/SELF will be biggest sources; also reached out to Recover Project and Center for New Americans.

Surveys will also be provided to homeless families in Greenfield (under age of 24). Right now the there is a total of 75 families in the hotels there.

Berkshire County – Dave is working with BCAC, the Reconnect Center, Family Life Support Center and the North Berkshire Community Coalition in North County and in South County, Construct, Railroad Street Youth Project.

Hampshire County: Eliot Services will (Brendon Eliot) will reach out to unsheltered youth. Rebecca Muller is reaching out to ServiceNet.

Jay Levy will be supervising street youth count across all counties through Eliot CHS-Homeless Services.

All agreed also useful to reach out to adult learning centers.

We discussed the challenge of sufficient resources to coordinate this survey/count, particularly for the Three County CoC where staff does not exist to assign to this project.   Use of volunteers (e.g., AmeriCorps) is helpful but there is the learning curve and relationship building that require time to maximize effectiveness. Resources for smaller organizations – e.g, those in more rural areas – is a constant challenge. Provide card with resources

Next meeting: Wed., Feb. 11, 10 am – 11:15 am, BHN, 417 Liberty Street, Springfield (immediately following Springfield school liaison meeting)

Announcement: Youth Legislative Forum, 2/13, 3:30-5:00, Palo Friere Charter School, Holyoke, 160 Lower Westfield Road, Holyoke. Opportunity for youth to get involved in legislative process. Spread word!