Category Archives: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

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


Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 1/8/14

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
January 8, 2014

 In attendance:  Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Ellen Broadhurst, West Springfield Schools, Dave Christopolis, Hilltown CDC, Viviana DeJesus, independent contractor consultant, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Candace Griffith, CHD, Sarah Kline, North Adams Public Schools, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc., Edwin Lugo, CHD, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Grantswork, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Keith Rhone, ROCA, Tyler Rousseau, Square One/Springfield College,

Unaccompanied Youth PIT/Survey Outreach and Preparation

Hampden County CoC update

Decided to use ICHH budget as follows:
gift cards for youth completing surveys
sponsor some events to bring youth together
youth ambassadors to help identify and reach out to other youth

They have identified at least 4 youth ambassadors thus far; have commitments from ARISE and Out Now to assist in Springfield.  Need to work on youth assistance outside of Springfield.

Holyoke Department of Community Development suggested Mayor may be involved with this effort – he may host a pizza party.

Still working on reaching out to Chicopee.

Westfield:  discussing use of community room in Meadows Apartments in Westfield for an event.

West Springfield:  Ellen conducted a lot of outreach but no takers for event or organizing.  CHD will help with West Springfield – they obtained a new grant for street outreach and will enlist these resources to get people to reach out to youth.

This Friday she will send a letter to all contacts asking for them to participate, will follow-up with calls, send packet of surveys week before, etc.

Three County CoC update

2 meetings thus far in Northampton, a team of people ready to go.  Still need to set up a parallel effort Amherst. (including outreach to Amherst Police officer assigned to work with at-risk youth).

Sub-group of Berkshire CoC – people poised in all 3 sub-regions for letter and directive.    Need to get out instructions. Still discussion about whether it would be worthwhile to do focus groups.

Franklin County:  in general looking for youth through standing networks and associations (as opposed to organizing events, etc.). Will also do outreach at GCC job fair.

There was group discussion of whether the state would be providing a standardized letter of introduction to groups.  Agreed that we should move forward on the assumption that we are to produce this.  Gerry volunteered to draft the cover letter.  All agreed on this general timeline:

  • Cover letter drafted by the end of this week, out early next week
  • Next 2 weeks: follow-up calls/emails to ensure receipt and commitment to participate
  • Week in advance of count on 1/29, mail packet surveys and instructionsStandardized letter? Will state provide?

We still need to figure out how surveys are returned.  Lisa will follow-up with ICHH to obtain clarification around Scantron for data entry or any other state coordinated plans.
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Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 11/6/13

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
Meeting Minutes
November 6, 2013

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, Rebecca Muller, Grant Works, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator, Karen Tracana, DYS

Reviewed Homeless Youth Count Survey

Gerry provided summary of survey results so far (thank you, Gerry!):

Noticed gaps in Berkshire and Franklin.  Have sent out additional requests for info to groups in these areas.   Sarah will forward survey to N. Berkshire and other Berkshire contacts.

In outreach, we will stress importance of submitting survey.  Not a commitment to actually do the count to be a conduit for additional info.

Outreach at schools:  challenging due to confidentiality issues but Sarah and Shannon will explore whether it would be acceptable to simply advertise (to all) the opportunity to participate in a survey.  A question of disseminating information.  Will investigate and get back to us.

Special Commission update (Lisa Goldsmith):

All CoC’s will get  $4,700 to support youth count.  Parameters on how funds can be spent are still unclear but impression is very flexible, e.g., for stipends, youth ambassadors, possibly focus groups.

Discussed whether to pursue focus groups across the region:  Yes!  Agreed on the following:

  1.  Lisa will reach out to Exa of Mass. Coalition for the Homeless who is facilitating focus group planning in and around Boston.  Lisa knows there was interest in doing focus groups in greater geographical diversity.  She also reported that the person actually conducting them, Mark, has a set approach/content and would like to administer the groups himself for consistency purposes.   Lisa will help find out if he is able to come to Western Mass.
  2. We agreed that ideally we would have a focus group in each county:  Springfield, Northampton, Greenfield, Pittsfield.   We brainstormed point people each in each city:  Springfield: Gerry, Lizzy; Northampton: Jay (could connect with Brendan of Eliot Services who works with some youth in Northampton); Greenfield: Lisa; Pittsfield: Karen
  3. Agreed to find out from Mark “best times” for youth to gather by getting input from providers.  Assume 2 days of focus groups, one for Springfield/Northampton; the other for Greenfield/Pittsfield

Rebecca pointed out that these focus groups are not only good for building the count but for broader data collection and to help position us for future funding opportunities.

All agreed that stipends, gift cards, meals, transportation are important to success.

Next meeting:   Wed., 12/11, 10-11:30 am after Springfield school liaison meeting, Scibelli Center, Square One, Teleclassroom.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 10/9/13

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
October 9, 2013

In attendance:  Shannon Barry, Springfield Public  Schools, Cara Davis Construct, Rose Egan, Community volunteer, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Rani Gould, YWCA of Western Massachusetts, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Rebecca Muller, GrantWorks, Lizzy Ortiz, City of  Springfield, Cindy Rodalakis, Chicopee Public Schools, Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator, Sarah Slautterback, DESE

Discussion of gaps analysis/youth count:

All agreed that a critical starting point is understanding homeless youth’s first point of access, i.e., where they go to get information and referrals and begin to get engaged.

Statewide Homeless Youth Commission Count Sub-Group preparing to train all CoCs to include survey of unaccompanied homeless youth in Point in Time counts.  3 CoC’s will be selected to conduct focus groups and get an extra level of technical assistance and support in the count.  Both Sarah and Lisa have promoted Western Mass. as a good candidate for the pilot and we all expressed our cautious optimism about being selected.  We will hear about this within the month.

In the meanwhile,  we agreed it would be useful no matter what to prepare for the youth PIT.  This includes connecting with the organizations in the larger communities around which youth cluster, determine access points, and starting to put the word out for “youth ambassadors” (those who will recruit youth to survey).  It also includes connecting with the schools in these areas, although we acknowledged the confidentiality limitations around school data and outreach (the most we can get is aggregate data – living arrangement, age and gender).

Also brainstormed the utility of tracking the housing status of DCF and DYS “aging-out” youth once 18.  Acknowledged a lot of outreach happens in adult settings, e.g., ServiceNet.  Need to reach out to the “adult service” spots as well.

Agreed we would develop a list of organizations and contact people by geographic sub-region.

Point people:

Hampden County – Lizzy
Hampshire – Rebecca
Franklin – Lisa
Berkshire – Cara

Rebecca and Lizzy will create form for PIT count structure, distribute to all.

Sara S will tell Commission that we’re already working on this.

Will continue to brainstorm outreach to the GLBTQ youth communities.

Next meeting:  Nov 6, 1 pm, Northampton Senior Center (note change from regular schedule of 2nd Tuesday due to conflict with Housing Forum on 11/13).