Category Archives: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Minutes – 1/9/16

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting
January 9, 2018

 

In attendance:  Peter Cofoni, DCF-Springfield; Rosemary Fiedler, Thrive HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara,  Charlie Knight, Rainville, Yeisie Mateo, DCF, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/CoC, Rebecca Muller, Gandara Center, Juan Rivera, DYS-Holyoke, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network
 
Youth Special Commission Update:  Please click here for the draft report . Comments are due by Jan. 14. The drafters apologized for the short turn-around time (to accommodate their next steering committee meeting on 1/16).  The committee agreed that the process for this report is questionable and may undermine desired outcomes.  Gerry will provide feedback on a specific matter regarding the coordination gap between DCF and DMH that precludes youth aging out of foster care to become eligible for DMH services.  The committee agreed that this kind of feedback –  concrete proposals for changes in state agency policy and coordination – would be the place to focus our energies.

State youth funding: The Governor released the $675K in FY18 youth funding but some of the funds have been earmarked for other youth orgs in and around Boston (unclear how that happened) and the understanding is that the remainder will be allocated via an RFP.  The committee acknowledge the consequences of this late timing in the fiscal year – this will be difficult to manage! And we will all stay tuned.
Point in Time Count: for Hampden County it will take place on 1/31; for 3 County 1/24.  Gerry confirmed how the HUD count does not count people who are doubled up or couch surfing, only those in shelter or unsheltered.  Gerry organized some outreach efforts with HCC, CHD and Gandara.
Continuing discussion of youth outreach: We welcomed Peter Cofoni, a DCF adolescent supervisor, to our committee.  He works with young adults in the Springfield area who are in residential support or who are in transition from foster care.  He is always looking for housing options and was pleased to connect with Gandara’s Shine program again.
Juan Rivera of DYS provided additional information on the numbers they serve in Western MA:  119 youth are still committed; 43 are youth engaged in services (YES, voluntary services).
Network Evaluation project: Pamela provided an update on the consultant working with the Network to help evaluate the best use of the Network going forward. She distributed the interview questions and encouraged everyone to provide their input.   She will send the information electronically as well.  She encouraged people to attend the Network meeting on 2/12, 1-4 pm, Kittredge Center, HCC, to further engage in this effort to help shape the Network going forward.
Next meeting date: Wed., 2/14, 2-3:30 pm; Rosemary will confirm space. [Note: Rosemary confirmed it is Donahue Buiding, Room 368, HCC]

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 12/11/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes – 12/11/17

In attendance: Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fielder, Thrive HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Rebecca Guimand, STCC, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara Center, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Yeisie Mateo, DCF, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks and Gandara, Juan Rivera, DYS, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Jennifer Wands, Springfield Public Schools

This meeting focused on learning more about DCF and DYS and how each agency intersected with unaccompanied homeless youth. Towards that end, we learned from Yeisie Mateo, DCF housing specialist, and Juan Rivera, DYS Holyoke District Office.  Below are some highlights of the conversation:

Yeisie Mateo, DCF:
Yeisie is the housing specialist for all of Western MA.  She focuses primarily on families with small children and consults with youth ages 18-24.  There are very few resources to refer to and she is eager to learn of additional resources.

Young adults can sign on with the department for services (DCF can serve youth ages 18-24 years old).  There are roughly 75-90 consultations with young people each month, all in Western MA.  Case management generally translates into establishing goals and providing assistance in finding employment or going to school.  Many young people who have been part of the foster system want nothing to do with it once they turn 18.  A young person can choose to stay in the foster home after reaching 18 if the foster parent will allow it.  Young people who find an apartment (very difficult to find and afford) can receive a small stipend.

If a young person leaves home at 16 or 17, they generally are not effectively in the custody of DCF in which case they are not eligible for services.

The group discussed the prospect of promoting greater engagement with DCF through building collaborations with community based partners and greater acesss to housing.

Juan Rivera, DYS:

Juan outlined the various treatment programs and capacities of each.  Young people are committed up to age 18 or 21 if involved with juvenile court.  The young person is assessed and the judge determines length of stay at various centers, generally 3-5 month stays.

•   Springfield Residential Treatment program – secure setting – run by CHD – 16 beds

•   Girls secure treatment detention setting – Tinkham Road – CHD –  also a revocation unit for young women who are not compliant – 12 beds

•   Community adolescent treatment program – Worthington St – step-down, short-term stay 3-5 months –  track 2 – more access, technically in the community – 12-14 beds

•   Our House – residential treatment in Greenfield – Key Program – track 2 program – more access to community, going to school, etc. 12-14 beds

•   Westfield Youth Service Center – for boys  – revocation unit, bail unit, stabilization unit, higher offenders, higher risk individuals 27/30 – reassessed

•   Tom Gruccialternative options – 14 – Gandara

•   Independent Living Program – West Springfield CHD – contract with CHD – 12

DYS operates on positive youth development model with a strong clinical component.   90 days before returning to the community, discussion begins around re-entry, appropriate support services, etc.   Services are in place 30 days prior to discharge.

At 18, youth can leave or can sign on to Youth Engagement Services (YES) up to 90 days after discharge.  Entirely voluntary. Western MA has the most young people YES (75-100).  If they don’t sign on they are given resource packets and referrals.

Bridging Opportunity Gap (BOG) is a partnership with community orgs, e.g, NEFWC, Community Action.

DYS District Manager is Lorrie Bobe (already on committee email list).  Juan is here on her behalf and will check back in with her following this meeting.

Next steps:

·      Gerry will invite Catholic Charities to next meeting to gain better clarity about how to access their resources

·      Yeisie will invite DCF Adolescent Supervisor Peter Meade

·      Gerry will follow up with Yeisie (how many homeless youth are seen) and Lorrie (#s committed, in YES, in Track 2) to gain better sense of numbers; in general our goal is to get as clear a picture as possible on the numbers of homeless youth because the more we can quantify the need, the better position we are in to bring resources to the table.

·      We want to identify the points of entry in and out of homelessness within the various systems and the points of connection and resources among community agencies to get youth on the path to stable housing and financial self-sufficiency.

Budget advocacy: Gerry will follow-up with EOHHS to gain a better understanding of how FY18 youth program funds are being allocated.

Next meeting: Tuesday Jan. 9, 2:30-4:00 pm, HCC, Donahue Building, 368

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 11/8/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting 
November 8, 2017
In attendance: Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc., Melvin Malave, ROCA, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks, Kelly Patchell, ROCA,  Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Jennifer Wands, Springfield Public Schools
Program updates:

ROCA: Melvin and Kelly shared news about their program, including the opening of a Holyoke location at 63 Jackson Street (the same space as the former Holyoke SSYI program, which ROCA is now managing).  ROCA serves young men ages 17-24 who have had direct criminal justice involvement.  ROCA is also starting a young mother’s initiative in Springfield for 35 mothers ages 16-24 years old who are high-risk (e.g., DCF involvement or housing unstable)
CHD – Jean announced the funding of their Transitional Living Program that will provide scattered site apartments to 5 youth ages 18-22 years old.  Program started October 1.
Gerry noted that she will bring together all Hampden County youth programs to discuss how best to implement coordinated entry among these programs.
Network funding and future update
 
Pamela reported to the group the Network funding status: by all accounts the Network’s earmark will not be funded (unclear whether the Senate overrode the Governor’s veto but regardless the message from the Governor’s office is to hold off on releasing funds for any earmarks).  She reported that at the Network’s last Leadership Council meeting, the Leadership Council decided to use the next 2 months to plan for a new phase of the Network that would allow it to become self-sustaining through partners’ efforts.  The interim steering committee is meeting on 11/20 to discuss further, including the possibility of retaining a consultant to facilitate a review of the Network’s functions and how best to preserve what is most useful to the region.  Pamela will facilitate in the committee meetings discussion of what each committee would like to preserve and how. Pamela expressed her conviction that through careful planning the Network can continue without paid staff.  Veterans and individual services committees have already expressed their intention to do so.
The youth committee discussion segued into the challenge of youth leadership development since that priority may intersect with the Network committee evolution.
Youth leadership development:
The group discussed next steps following last month’s youth engagement training.  How best to make meaningful progress around youth involvement and leadership?
Rebecca noted that with SAMHSA funds 2 new youth drop-in centers are opening, one in Springfield and one in Worcester.  All agreed that the challenge is to go to where youth already are as opposed to inviting them to a meeting. We need to meet youth in an environment where they already feel they belong and are in a position to advise adults in the field what it is they need and want. We brainstormed this challenge for a while with no clear outcomes but a clear identification of the challenges! We agreed we would continue this discussion at our next meeting.  Meanwhile:
  • Program leaders (Kelly, Jean, Sharon) will reach out to their youth programs and young people involved to ask for their feedback
  • Gerry and Pamela will reach out again to DCF and DYS to recruit their involvement in this effort
  • Gerry will explore the possibility of Davis Foundation funding to support youth training and leadership development
Advocacy on Act to Provide Identification to Homeless Youth and Families:
Pamela shared the sponsorship request from MA Coalition for the Homeless on Senate Bill 1906/House Bill 2737, an Act to Provide Identification to Homeless Youth and Families. There was unanimous agreement that this bill is extremely important to young people who frequently face the barrier from not having access to standard identification. Pamela will report back sponsorship and send out the advocacy alert to all in the Network.
Next meeting: Monday, December 11, 3-5 pm, HCC (Rosemary will report back on available space).

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)