Category Archives: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth


Family Services Meeting Minutes – 4/10/19

n attendance: Rebecca Burgos, CFCE West Springfield, Hillary Cronin, VA,, Brenda Garcia, BHN Project Fit, Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Jenise Kataliina, Square One, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Donna Nadeau, DHCD

Built for Zero Update: Pamela updated the group on her attendance at the Built For Zero Learning Session in Atlanta, GA in late March as part of the Hampden County CoC team. This is a very exciting initiative – over 70 CoCs and communities represented with 500 people from across the country – working as part of a national initiative (led by the national organization Community Solutions) in collaboration with HUD, VA and the US Interagency on Homelessness. Its first focus is to end veteran homelessness (several communities have celebrated this milestone; Hampden County has set June 30 for its goal!).  “Ending” means reaching “functional zero” where the number of people experiencing homelessness each month is less than the average number of people who are rehoused (i.e., the “outflow” is larger than the “inflow”). After achieving veteran homelessness, the initiative will focus its efforts on ending chronic homelessness and then all forms of homelessness (youth and family).

Built for Zero considers itself a movement for social change, anchored in fundamental grassroots organizing principles (there is no such thing as doing “for” only “with”), entirely data-driven and using that data to make highly measurable progress.  It is positively inspiring to be a part of it!
Pamela shared this information with the new 3 County CoC lead – Community Action – and they are participating in a webinar on 4/9 about how new communities can join.  We will all stay tuned.  The next national convening will be in October and meanwhile the work in Hampden County continues with the countdown to ending veteran homelessness by June 30.  

School Liaison/Shelter Provider Update: Jill Fijal of Chicopee Public Schools reported out on the Network meeting of school liaisons and shelter providers to build stronger partnerships so students living in shelters are better served and connected to services.  School liaisons will offer a training for all shelter case managers on July 23 to train them on McKinney Vento policies and resources.  Jill is the liaison on this.  Thank you, Jill!

Child Care Voucher/Head Start/CFCE Training: As a follow-up to the new EEC voucher regulations and our outreach on Head Start and CFCE, the Network is sponsoring a training on Tuesday, April 30, 9:30 am – 11:30 am at Holyoke Community College – Kittredge Center, Room 301.  Please register here.   We clarified that Sara Garvin of NEFWC will be participating in the EEC training; Rebecca Burgos will be the point person for the CFCE outreach and we will maximize the turn-out of shelter case managers to this training so they are in possession of this information as they serve families. 

MA Youth Count: April 12 – May 12 – Go here for the surveys and related information.

FY20 State Budget Update: Pamela, in combination with various Network partners, has been leading meetings with Western MA state legislators regarding the Network’s FY20 budget priorities.  Today, Network partners got an audience with Senate President Spilka who joined a planned meeting with Senator Anne Gobi (from Ware and Palmer), a fabulous opportunity to bring Western MA needs to the highest levels of state government!

Register for the Resource Fair!Monday, June 10, 9 am – 12 noon, Holyoke Community College.  

To register to attend: go here

To register to request table space to share resources: go here (note: if you’re having a table but have additional staff attending, please register on the general attendance link as well).

Next meeting date: Tuesday, May 14, 11 am – 12:30 pm, Frost Building, Room 309, Holyoke Community College.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 3/20/19

In attendance: Peter Cofoni, DCF, MarleneCorales, Westover Job Corps, Emily English, Gandara Center, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Ann Lentini, Domus, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden County CoC, Magnus Monroe, Davis Foundation, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical Center, Phil Ringwood, DIAL/SELF, Ellorie Stevens, DCF, Tyrese Tillman, CHD Safety Zone, Kelsey Wessels, DIAL/SELF

EOHHS Youth Grant Updates:Three County CoC:

  • Between Jan and March: 69 young people were connecting to services; 29 new young people served and 17 under the EOHHS grant. 20 young people have been housed. 
  • Winter shelter planning: discussions underway with shelter providers to make shelters more youth-focused
  • Needs assessment: RFP has been issued to obtain a consultant
  • Coordinated Entry: paused due to CoC transition between Hilltown CDC and Community Action

Hampden County:

  • 31 young people are currently housed. 
  • Needs assessment: consultants have been retained and meetings are underway, both with providers and young people focus groups. On April 4, there will be a debrief session with the consultants. 9:30 am – 12:30 pm at UMass Springfield.  Stay tuned for details. 
  • Coordinated Entry: Gandara and CHD are meeting at least monthly and are now the main points of entry for coordinated entry.  Working towards expanding the entry points and referral sources.  The outreach to DCF will be part of that. 
  • Youth shelter: working on locating space.  Meanwhile staff have been hired and are being trained and utilized for outreach. 

MA Youth Count:  Will take place between 4/12- 5/12. Planning is underway for outreach and identification.  DCF will be enlisted as part of the outreach.  MassHire Holyoke is holding a career services fair focused on youth on April 10, 4-6 pm, War Memorial in Holyoke.  Contact Gladys LeBron of MassHire Holyoke for follow-up. 

DCF training on May 23, 10 am – 12  noon, Kittredge Center, HCC: Elorie reminded us of the cross-training audience – staff from DCF, DYS, probation, etc. We clarified our goals and objectives: 

  • to gain an understanding of available services to address youth homelessness
  • when in contact with a young person who is at risk or currently homeless, to learn how to access the system, what is the full-service continuum
  • to get information on the eligibility guidelines for each program

We will have tables with information available.  We will provide summary sheets of programs and eligibility criteria.
Pamela will convene a conference call to plan further with:  Emily, Phil, Lizzy, Lisa, Tyrese, Gerry 

YHDP grant: HUD issued next round of grant opportunity for CoC for community response to youth homelessness.  Hampden County is applying again (previous applications did not score quite high enough). This time able to rely on the additional input from needs assessment and foster care project and the development of a youth advisory board.

Foster Care Collaboration Update – The journey mapping is underway to look at the trajectory for youth ages 14 to mid-20’s.  A  group of 8 youth met yesterday; very productive conversation.  

Be sure to sign up for the Annual Resource Fair on June 10 if you haven’t already!
To register to attend: go here.To register to request table space to share resources: go here

Next meeting dates:
4/17, 9:30 am, Kittredge Center, Room 203
5/8, 9:30 am, Holyoke Public Library
6/5, 9:30, Kittredge Center, Room 303

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 2/13/19

In attendance: Emily English, Gandara Center, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara Center, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden County CoC, Magnus Monroe, Davis Foundation, Rebecca Muller, Gandara Center, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kelsey Wessels, DIAL/SELF

EOHHS Youth Grant Updates3 County update:Focusing right now on needs assessment and winter sheltering.  Meeting with ServiceNet to discuss potential accommodations for youth in their shelter (while moving towards a youth only shelter).  Looking at a “youth protocol” for shelters based on a protocol developed by Father Bill’s shelter on the South Shore. On the assessment, will likely retain a consultant to assist with the project; currently gathering information. 

Hampden County Update:

  • Gandara (sub-grantee) has housed 4 people with long-term RRH assistance. Gandara is working on the youth shelter space but in the meanwhile is also working with Friends of the Homeless on the same youth protocol issue. Gerry is facilitating this conversation.  Above all the priority is to ensure youth who enter the adult shelter are quickly connected to youth specific services. Gerry will send to Pamela Father Bill’s protocol and she will send it out to the committee.  (Note post meeting: the link is here.)
  • CHD is close to hiring prevention and outreach person.
  • Retained consultant to do 3 things:  (1) needs assessment; (2) help with youth engagement and creation of a youth action board and (3) to improve chances of getting federal Youth Homelessness Demonstration project grant (3rd chance happening this Spring).  Hired Matt Aronson consulting (used to work at HUD, created YHD program). Currently cataloguing all services and collecting all contacts for needs assessment. Gerry sent out initial draft documents to the committee, requesting input. 
  • Consultants will be in town March 1 and March 8.  Kick-off meeting on March 1, 9 -10:30 am – Union Station, Springfield, 2nd floor
  • Hopeful that this planning and assessment process will provide for greater outreach opportunities when the state youth count occurs in May. 

Data reporting for both CoCs: Because this state grant requires some data that is not required by HMIS, e.g., LGBTQ status, 3 county and Hampden are working with Green River consulting firm to create an intake within the system which will collect all the required data. Currently being tested, will roll out completely soon.

Monthly data report for this committee:  We agreed it would be useful to get summary data on the grants on the:

# of youth referred
# of youth engaged
# of youth housed 

Also it would be useful to put these grant outcomes in the context of all youth housing work, i.e., “how many youth were housed this month?”

Hampden County Foster Care/Homelessness Project:Foster Care Intervention Project
Through the Hampden CoC’s work with the national Built for Zero campaign, it got connected to a nationwide study on the relationship between foster care and youth homelessness. A consulting firm, along with a graduate program in NYC, funded by a private family foundation (The Larson Family Foundation), focuses on “human-centered” designs of social programs. They interviewed a number of communities and selected two nationwide: Springfield/Hampden County and Phoenix, AZ.  We won the lottery! 

They will be doing a deep investigation on the journey from foster care to homelessness; will design interventions based on what they learn from our community, informed by data, will help implement pilot projects in response and study their impact, and eventually roll out these recommended practices nationwide.

There was an initial meeting last week where they explained the project as a whole. First step is “journey mapping” – pulling in the expertise from service providers and youth directly, on what happens in the journey from foster care to homelessness.  First session in Springfield is on March 1, 11 am – 1:30 pm.  Gerry will send out additional info to shelter and youth providers to invite participation.  This will be a 2 year timeline for the whole project, including summer piloting and initial evaluation, then determining interventions and implementing the following year and evaluating.  

Gerry has been in touch with Linn Torto of Mass ICHH who is connecting Gerry with the DCF and DYS Assistant Secretaries.  Will also reach out to DMH. 

OrgCode training report-out:  Lisa, Emily, Sharon and Pamela spoke with Erin Wixsten after the “awesome shelter” training to discuss youth specific strategies.  Click here for the notes.
Family RFI Response:  Youth providers were involved in providing their input to the Family RFI. Click here for the final submission which included young parent recommendations.

DCF Training – May 23, 10 am: We established our working group: Lisa, Jean, Gerry, Emily – Pamela will coordinate a meeting in a couple of weeks and touch base with Elorie Stevens at DCF to confirm plans. 

HUD PIT count Update:The count took place on and around Jan. 30. Emily reported on an outreach event at ROCA where 20 youth were engaged and completed surveys.  The data is being sent to Gerry now (unclear how many were actually homeless).

While it is too soon to have youth-specific results on the count, Gerry reported that 19 unsheltered individuals were identified in Holyoke; in all of Hampden County the unsheltered count was approx. 40, so Holyoke constituted half.  The high Holyoke count is most likely a reflection of the strengthening network within Holyoke – across the police dept., Tapestry, Eliot and other agencies. It’s a paradoxical reflection of progress to actually identify more of the population that is out there.

In 3 county, Pamela was able to relay Jay’s report of 28 total unsheltered individuals counted. 

Career Services Resource Fair: coming up Friday, Feb. 1, 10 am – 12 noon, MassHire Holyoke, 850 High Street, Holyoke

Save the date: 3rd annual Housing and Homelessness Resource Fair for all providers: Monday, June 10, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, HCC.

Next meeting dates: 
March 20, 10:30 – 12 noon, TBD
April 17, 9:30 am, HCC, KC 302
May 8, 9:30 am, TBD
June 5, 9:30 am, HCC, KC 303

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes – 1/9/18

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes
January 9, 2018

In attendance:  Peter Cofoni, DCF, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara Center, Ann Lentini, Domus, Mena Regan, CHD/DYS, Denise Rivera, FOH/CSO, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Elorie Stevens, DCF

Discussion with Elorie Stevens, DCF Intensive Placement Coordinator, Western RegionSpecial thanks to Elorie for joining us this morning. 
Elorie explained her role at DCF: as Intensive Placement Coordinator, she works with area offices to identify placements for young people who need a higher level of care; she coordinates the work around Dually Involved Youth (DIY) – both DCF and DYS involved (meet with DYS weekly); meets with DMH and DDS on a monthly basis. 
There are 5 offices in the Western region: 2 in Springfield, 1 in Holyoke, Greenfield and Pittsfield. She shares this job with a counterpart, Jen Coupe. Elorie covers one Springfield office, Holyoke and Greenfield; Jen covers the other Springfield office and Pittsfield. 

We provided an overview of our homelessness system for young adults, Coordinated Entry and our goal of ensuring coordination and communication between our systems so that youth in DCF/DYS at risk of homelessness are linked to homelessness prevention programs as early as possible. We all acknowledged the challenge of young people who are transitioning out of the DCF (or any system) not wanting to be involved – and that resistance making homelessness a greater risk.
Elorie offered to allocate one of DCF’s regular region-wide trainings to learning about youth homelessness-related programs.  These training dates include DCF, DYS, Juvenile Court and other providers, up to 100 total from across the four counties. We said yes! 
We agreed on a date: 

Thursday, May 23, 10 am – 12 noon, Kittredge Center, Rm 301/303. We agreed we would brainstorm a title (note: following the meeting we confirmed this title: Homelessness prevention and re-housing services for young adults: how to access the system and what it offers).  Elorie will do further planning with her planning group; our committee will continue to talk about how best to organize the training.
In addition to adding Elorie to our committee email list, Elorie will reach out to Justin Lak, the Adolescent Outreach Supervisor for the Western region, and invite him to attend our meetings. 
Exciting progress on building our collaboration and huge thanks to Peter for connecting us and Elorie for joining us!

Youth grant update:
Hampden County: a coordinator has been hired for the winter shelter; now hiring direct care staff.  Searching for an appropriate location for the shelter. Continuing to fill rapid re-housing slots. Building collaboration with CHD on diversion and prevention work. 
Three County: working on staffing and creating good data tracking systems. Lisa Goldsmith is moving from Dial/SELF to a new position as homeless youth services manager at Community Action as of Jan. 28 – she will continue the role of managing this grant.

Youth count: Jan. 30
Hampden County: Working with Impact Center, HCC, ROCA on a couple of outreach events
Three County: working with regional contact person in each county to send out information, and with Eliot Services on outreach
Next meeting date: Wed., 2/13, 9:15 – 10:30 am, Kittredge Center, Room 303, HCC.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting – 12/14/18

In attendance:  Peter Cofoni, DCF, Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Ann Lentini, Domus, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Mena Regan, CHD, Denise Rivera-Nuiez, FOH/CSO, Jean Rogers, CHD, Rebecca Muller, Grant Works/Gandara

Implementation of EOHHS youth grants:There was a statewide meeting of all grantees recently. Good toconnect and discuss data issues among other aspects of implementation. This initiative is being guided by Linn Torto of the MA Interagency Council on Homelessness. Contracts have been sent to all regions at this point.

Hampden County: The contract is all but final. Now doing sub-recipient contracts with Gandara and CHD.  CHD is hiring a staffperson to do outreach, prevention and diversion.  Gandara will have several staff to do the same plus run the winter shelter and the administrationof the flex funds.   Winter shelter plans are well underway, deciding on hours with youth input (6 pm – 8 am); will open first in an available church space while looking for more permanent space in a home. 

Three County: still waiting on contract from the state but should be any day now. 

Data collection issues: This program is requiring the reporting of some data points that are not already in HMIS. Because the intention is for this program to be extended up to 8 years, it is worthwhile to address the data needs in a more systematic way. Gerry is convening a meeting of Green River, the consultants that developed the data warehouse (along with other tools) that is being utilized by Hampden and Three County CoCs.  Green River’s system also supports coordinated entry by doing automatic matches between individuals (based on their assessments) and housing units that become available. This system offers tremendous potential for streamlining housing efforts! The hope is to expand the data system to capture the youth experiencing homelessness – both to refer into the system and to refer out, tracking theresources provided and the outcomes.  The meeting with Green River and 3 county and Hampden County providers will take place sometime in January. 

Youth aging out of foster care: Our next meeting in January will include Elorie Stevens, a regional supervisor at DCF, where wewill have a discussion about how to build connections between DCF and coordinated entry to prevent homelessness and maintain housing. 

Gerry reported on a research project out of NY focusing on interventions that prevent homelessness among aging out foster care youth. She referred them to folks on our committee so please stay tuned.

Point in time count: We confirmed that two counts will take placethis year: Jan. 30 as part of the yearly HUD count and sometime in May as partof the statewide youth count. Community colleges and providers will support theJan. 30 count with some outreach efforts (acknowledging the challenge with just returning from winter break). 

Family shelter system re-procurement: We discussed the need to address youth parenting in the family re-procurement process that is underway.  It was noted that young parents need to be treated differently in the system based on their developmental needs and that in general the shelter system needs to look at assessment across the board.  It was also noted that the procurement should address the gap for “off  hours” assistance in general (after 5 pm and weekends).  Pamela will coordinate a conference call with Libby, Emily, Gerry, Lisa (and late-breaking thought by Pamela, Jane Banks).

Next meeting date: Jan. 9, 9 am – 10:30 am, HCC, Frost Building 309

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 11/14/18

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 11/14/18
In attendance: Peter Cofoni, DCF, Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden CoC/Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Gandara/Grant Works, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Mena Regan, CHD, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network (apologies if I forgot anyone else or added someone who wasn’t there – I lost the sign-in sheet!)

Statewide Youth Count Check-inWe collected feedback for Lisa as she is talking with statewide youth count coordinators shortly.  The feedback included: preference to do count every other year instead of every year; focus on more qualitative data, i.e., what is driving homelessness, since a pure “count” is difficult to obtain, factor in more “upstream” variables, increase capacity to ascertain patterns

EOHHS grant updates:  Hampden CoC received its grant for $316,000.  The City will issue an RFP to allocate the funds.  Working with CHD, Safety Zone and Gandara will for outreach, rapid rehousing and a shelter component (planning underway).  Funds will also be allocated to conduct a needs assessment.  Community Action – for 3 county region – is waiting on contract.

Data Update: Gerry shared that work continues on the youth “by name list.” Roughly 40 youth on the list but it is challenging because youth are seen briefly, then not seen again for a while, then re-emerge.  The by-name list at least affords a sense of the patterns and makes clear the challenge of being best positioned to serve when the “brief touch” occurs at different intersection points.

Discussion of racial equity reports: See attached Hampden County report here; 3 County all populations report here and 3 county youth report here. We discussed the racial equity reports for Hampden and Three County CoCs.  One shared general finding (see reports for details): young African Americans are over-represented in the homeless population relative to their percentage of the general population in Hampden County; latinx are over-represented in the Three County region. In Hampden County, for young people of color who are not parenting, they are more likely to more quickly get re-housed than white youth.  This may be related to the fact that the people doing the re-housing work are also people of color and are able to better connect. 

It is also relevant to note that 71% of young people in Hampden County are young people. This is especially pertinent to the upcoming family re-procurement process: we need to focus on reaching populations most at risk, including people of color, extremely low-come, LGBTQ, and those without a GED or high school diploma.

This conversation segued into a discussion of young people at greatest risk of homelessness: those leaving foster care or juvenile justice system (nationally, over 1/3 of youth who are homeless were in the foster care system; close to half who are in the juvenile justice system or jail experience homelessness).  And the correlation between these populations and teen pregnancy is extremely high.

We agreed we need to focus our efforts on coordinated entry with DCF and DYS, building a two-way communication system that maximizes the potential for successful intervention. As a start, Peter Cofoni of DCF will reach out to DCF regional supervisor to see if she can attend our next meeting.

Next meeting date: Friday, December 14, 9:15 am – 10:30 am, Kittredge Center, Room 301, HCC 

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 10/17/18

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
Meeting Minutes – 10/17/18

In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Peter Cofoni, DCF, Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc., Gerry McCafferty, Hampden CoC, Rebecca Muller, Gandara Center, Rylee O’Brien, Mena Regan, CHD, Jean Rogers, CHD, Martha Sandoval, Baystate General Pediatrics, Pamela Schwartz,Network, Julie Vital, Baystate General Pediatrics

State youth funding:  Gerry and Lisa shared that they both received notice that youth grants will be announced on a call on Thursday morning (tomorrow) for Hampden and 3 County regions.  Both sub-regions applied for funds as part of the state funding allocated for youth housing and homelessness services provided in the FY19 project (grant applications in the $300,000 range).  The state envisions this funding to be renewed and hopefully increased over a 10 year period.  The money will be utilized for outreach, prevention, rapid rehousing and a winter shelter for youth and will pay for a range of staff, services and appropriate cash assistance for youth.

Building youth input: Gerry, Emily and Rebecca recently met with young leaders of Youth Voice, the leadership group at Gandara’s Impact Center, to introduce themselves and begin a dialogue with them about how best to structure a winter shelter.  It was a very productive conversation that included touching on points around how to support both privacy and safety (no doors but curtains or some kind of separation); ensuring it’s LGBTQ welcoming, making it low barrier (e.g., perhaps “damp” as opposed to a dry or wet shelter – behavior based).

On LGBTQ accessibility and awareness, Gerry hosted a training on working with transgender individuals for Hampden County providers. The trainer was Rev. Louis Mitchell, a transgender man with a history in the field of homelessness and recovery, including involvement in creating the nation’s first emergency shelter.  His bio is here:  The training was a follow-up to a HUD webinar on the Equal Access Rule, which requires HUD-funded programs to provide equal access to all regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.  An additional resource on this issue is  the Stonewall Center at UMass,which offers workshops (DIAL/SELF has used them with success).

Coordinated Entry update: MANY (Mid-Atlantic Network for Youth) hosted its 4th call yesterday where the focus was on how to use data.  The calls include leaders on youth homelessness from 5-7 communities.  It’s a great opportunity to exchange best practices and goals.

Discussion of ACO’s and connecting around homelessness.  We had a very lengthy and productive conversation around how Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) are structured in relationship to intersecting with patients facing homelessness.  Julie, Martha and Rylee of Baystate General Pediatrics helped us all understand better what hospitals/health care centers are now incentivized to do around asking about housing stability (reimbursement for each finding), how many patients are reporting their housing instability and the current gap in having a clear protocol in response to those reports.  We discussed the tremendous opportunity this poses for our Network as a whole for building into the system capacity to reach and serve these people. This will be a process!  And we spent some time laying the groundwork for the work that lies ahead.

Gerry will provide the cards produced that summarize youth services in Hampden County.  Pamela will add Julie, Martha and Rylee to the family services email list.  Pamela will reach out to Julie to connect with HNE director around the 12/17 training on “thinking like a system” to see if she can attend.  We will also reach out to other ACO’s to see how we can bring them into these conversations as well.

Network trainings:

Pamela reported on upcoming Network sponsored trainings – how to run an awesome shelter – 12/18; progressive engagement and diversion (1/2 day 1/31) and trauma informed care (1/2 day, 1/31).  All offered by OrgCode, a highly reputed consulting firm that works on system change within homelessness systems.  Email registration forms went out this morning.

We didn’t have the time to discuss the racial disparity analysis but will put that on the agenda for next meeting.

Next meeting dates:
Wed., Nov. 14, 9-10:30 am, Frost Building, Room 309



Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 9/28/18

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes
September 28, 2018

In attendance: Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc., Gerry McCafferty, Hampden County CoC, Rebecca Muller, GrantWorks, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Mena Regan, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Martha Sandoval, Baystate Pediatrics, Julie Vital, Baystate Pediatrics

Coordinated Entry goals review and discussion:

Our two CoC’s are participating in a year-long technical assistance learning collaborative offered by MANY (Mid-Atlantic Network for Youth) with web-based phone calls every 6 weeks.  There have been 3 calls so far. The focus now is on integrating Coordinated Entry into the youth homelessness system; that is, developing a single by-name list of homeless youth across each CoC, with each person assessed for their vulnerabilities and needs by a single assessment tool, with all providers using this same tool and this same by-name list.  The ultimate goal is to be able to best prioritize the available resources for the youth in need of them and to gain a thorough understanding of needs, gaps and how best to fill them.  Current participants in these calls across the two regions include Emily English, Gandara Center, Jean Rogers, CHD, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/Hampden CoC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF.

Hampden County began its youth by-name list last Spring. They include people who are doubled-up or couch surfing (even though HUD doesn’t “count” them) as well as people in shelter or on the street; they are also collecting data on LGBTQ. They have begun to collect data and are identifying their gaps and determining how to collect in the future.  They are now on two national dashboards:

The MANY dashboard (includes only communities participating in this learning collaborative):!/vizhome/CELCDashboard/CoordinatedEntryLearningCollaborativeDashboard

A Way Home America – includes all data on youth from across the country

Hampden County’s goal over this period is to bring 5 new providers into the coordinated entry system, e.g., ROCA, YWCA, HCC, Baystate, Impact Center.  Gerry will schedule a training to orient providers on how to refer a youth into the system.

Three County CoC: It is also starting on collecting similar data with a goal to get on the national dashboards.  Additional goals include conducting an analysis of their current by-name list, integrating it into the weekly coordinated entry meetings occurring across the region, determining which agencies are doing assessments and conducting outreach to increase the number of providers participating.  DIAL/SELF, ServiceNet and Eliot CHS-Homeless services are leading partners in this effort with DIAL/SELF at the helm.

Youth Action Board: The Hampden County CoC has applied twice for HUD’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP) but scored just out of range to get funded. Another round of funding will be made available this year and the CoC will try again. The biggest gap in the application is the lack of a Youth Action Board, a youth led group that is driving policies and procedures around addressing this challenge.

The group discussed the Impact Center (SAMHSA and DMH funded) which has a youth led advisory board called Youth Voice.  Click here for the flyer. Rebecca will reach out to initiate a meeting with them (with Gerry) to discuss if/how they would like to get more involved in state and federal youth homelessness work (e.g., the state funding coming soon as well as HUD funding). The data shows that the Impact Center has seen 130 “unique” youth in the first 5 months, about 20% of whom were considered housing unstable.  All agreed it would be great to support development of this group in order to gain their active participation in identifying gaps and challenges to meeting needs of at-risk youth, as well as developing their own leadership skills in the process.

Racial disparity analysis:  We began a discussion of the findings from the racial disparity analysis required by HUD but agreed we did not have enough time so will instead devote a substantial part of our next meeting to this issue.  Pamela will send out materials in advance.

Network FY19 Earmark: Pamela reported that the Network Steering Committee has made a proposal to DHCD for allocating its $125,000 earmark, which will include: (1) flexible funds for prevention and rapid re-housing (distributed 60-40% between Hampden and Three County CoC based on population), which will also include the opportunity to explore pilot funding strategies to engage more landlords with incentives or mitigation; and (2) training funds to support the professional development and system building across the region, relying on nationally recognized experts in the field.

Network Legislative Event:  The Steering Committee decided to host a legislative gathering on Friday, November 16, 1 pm – 3 pm, at Greenfield Community College (the Dining Commons) to meet the 5 new presumed legislators from the Upper Pioneer Valley (candidate Jo Comerford for State Senate, and for State Representative: Natalie Blais, Dan Carey, Mindy Domb and Lindsay Sabadosa).  It will also include other current Western MA legislators, the region’s mayors and other locally elected officials. All are welcome!  If you are interested in attending, register here.

Rapid re-housing training: Lisa and Emily shared an update on the MHSA training they helped lead on rapid re-housing for youth.  It was informative and supportive.  One take-away: stabilization needs for youth require more time than for the typical adult population, from 1.5-2 years as opposed to the standard 1 year. It was very useful to be together with other youth providers from across the state.

Next meeting dates/times:

Wed., 10/17 – 9 am – 10:30 am, Donahue Building, Room 340, HCC

Wed., 11/14, 9 am – 10:30 am, Frost Building, Room 309, HCC

Wed., 12/12, 9 am – 10:30 am, Frost Building, Room 301A, HCC