Category Archives: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Minutes – 12/10/14

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes
December 10, 2012

In attendance: Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Pamela Cook, Gandara SHINE program, Pam Fijial, Chicopee Public Schools, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Sarah Kline, North Adams School Public Schools, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public School Liaison, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Youth Count Discussion:

Reminder on school policy: we can connect with schools – with superintendent approval – and use them as a conduit to outside events for homeless youth, i.e., distribution of flyers and information.

Confirmed that the count applies to all unaccompanied homeless youth, ages 18-24. “Homeless” is defined to include doubling-up and couch-surfing (distinct from HUD rules on Point In Time Count). The count/surveys will take place from Wed., 1/28 through the following Tuesday, 2/3.

Hampden County update:

Lizzy Ortiz is organizing 2 magnet events, STCC and HCC. They will offer food and gift cards and have outreach workers present to provide follow-up support available (e.g., via CHD, SHINE) for any interested youth. Lizzy is scheduling a meeting before the holidays with service providers to train and organize around outreach.

We discussed outreach to Chicopee youth, acknowledging the transportation barriers to get to Holyoke or Springfield magnet events. But limited resources preclude Lizzy from organizing a 3rd event. Possible solutions: promote use of the online survey (Liz Rogers of DHCD is working on creating this capacity) and advertise the Chicopee Public Library as a location to complete the survey. We also brainstormed a Chicopee contact that could be placed on the event flyers, e.g,. “if you can’t make it to Holyoke or Springfield, contact xxx.” Lizzy will reach out to the Chicopee Boys and Girls Club to see if they would be willing to provide that local resource.

Lizzy will send their provider outreach letter to Three County folks for use as possible template. Click here for Hampden County letter.

Pamela shared Gerry’s compilation of last year’s data on Hampden County’s unaccompanied youth.  Click here to review. Pamela will distribute it electronically as well. Interesting findings: 234 youth surveyed; 193 youth homeless, 29 doubled up; 53 youth at risk of becoming homeless; 95% between ages of 18-24 (5% under 18).

Three County Update:

Dave Christopolis was unable to attend this meeting but relayed via email that he is meeting with three county point people – Rebecca, Terri, Lisa – over the next few days to organize outreach. Lisa reported that she assumes an outreach letter to providers will be going out shortly.

Jay Levy requested that the surveys and gift cards get distributed to outreach workers at least a week prior to the count so that where more individual outreach occurs – in Hampshire County, e.g. – outreach workers are prepared to go when it’s time.

Legislative priorities discussion:

We agreed we would continue to prioritize the passage of the unaccompanied homeless youth bill (formerly known as House Bill 135) and , assuming that passes by the end of Governor Patrick’s term (the hope), we will then follow the Mass. Coalition for the Homeless’ lead on the advocacy for the funding necessary to enact the bill.

We also agreed we would connect with MHSA around its youth piece of Home and Healthy for Good.

We raised the recently launched Social Impact Bond initiative launched by MA (“pay for success” model) and discussed whether there are tie-ins for chronically homeless youth.   Pamela will follow up with MHSA and MHA (Jerry Ray) to learn more.

Next meeting dates:

Thursday, 1/15, 10 am, Northampton Senior Center

Wednesday, 2/11, 10 am, Springfield, BHN (following Springfield liaison meeting)

Help us prepare for the 2015 Youth Count

We need your input as we prepare for the 2015 Homeless/At-Risk Youth Count, which will take place the last week of January 2015. We know that homeless youth often try NOT to be found, which makes it difficult to get an accurate count and understanding of this population’s needs.

Help us out by completing our survey, and sharing the survey broadly, so that we hear from many people who connect with youth. Click below to take the short survey:

Seeking your input: Massachusetts Youth Count 2015

Massachusetts is conducting its second annual count of youth who are homeless or unstably housed.  The CoCs are coordinating the count, which will take place January 28–February 3, 2015.

It takes lots of contacts to reach youth throughout our region, especially since many youth do not access homeless service providers. To get to as many youth as possible, we need lots of partners.

Can you help us?

As a first step, please tell us what you know and what you might be willing to do. Start by filling out this survey, and then forward the survey to everyone you know who works with youth.

Also, if you are in Hampden County, connect with us for regular updates.  Visit our website and follow us on Twitter @HampdenYouth.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Minutes – 11/18/14

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting
November 18, 2014

In attendance: Dave Christopolis, Hilltown CDC, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Rani Gould, YWCA, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Teri Rutherford, Hilltown CDC, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Update on Youth Count Training:
Lisa, Lizzy, Dave and Teri all attended the ICHH sponsored Youth Count training in Worcester on 11/17. Lisa and Lizzy presented on a panel (hats off to the Western region for their excellent count numbers last year). Lisa connected with a staff person from Bristol County Community College who will be a resource for tips for working more effectively with Greenfield Community College this time around.

Outreach to school population: Sarah Slautterback of DESE attended and shared the latest clarification around outreach within the schools: with superintendent permission, we can provide information via guidance counselors and/or assemblies about magnet events outside of the school relevant to the Count. This is very exciting progress. Dave will reach out to the Pittsfield superintendent and Lizzy intends to reach out to the Springfield superintendent and target 3-5 high schools in Springfield and Holyoke and hold magnet events at Springfield Technical Community College and Holyoke Community College. Jordana suggested considering use of the Holyoke Library for a magnet event since it is more accessible than HCC.

Teri also suggested using school “morning announcements” to share information about magnet events.

The Count Training also included information about how best to reach youth, stressing the importance of social media and the value of having youth reach out to youth, first building relationships and trust before conducting the survey.

Brainstorm sources for “youth ambassadors” – Gandara Center, Act Up for Hampden County; Dial/SELF for Franklin County; Hampshire County is less clear although Dave and Teri will reach out to ServiceNet and Community Action; Berkshire County Dave has relationships and will follow-up.

The youth surveys are slated to begin Thursday, 1/29, the day after the HUD Point in Time count and may continue through the following Tuesday.

Time is now to begin recruiting participating organizations in survey distribution (starting with last year’s recruits).

We will consider whether to use the video made at last year’s regional youth count training to distribute for training for this year.

Teri noted that it is very important for those doing outreach to understand well the WHY of this survey; what change are we trying to effect, and to be able to explain it to the youth we are asking to survey.

We discussed the challenge of reaching youth who don’t want to be identified as homeless. We acknowledged the importance of detailed information related to the magnet events, including directions, access to bus tokens, etc.

We discussed other possible outreach targets: community colleges, adult learning and literacy centers, Planned Parenthood (Teri has a friend who is a manager there) and Tapestry Health. We need to lay the groundwork for teachers and counselors to help identify and direct youth to this survey.

We discussed the role of the Network in the Count and agreed that the Network would post regular announcements on its blog, directing people to Teri for 3 County and Lizzy for Hampden County, for assistance with outreach. Contact info for Teri: 413-296-4536 ext 110.

Legislative update:

Great news for House bill 135, now re-numbered to Bill 4517: the House Ways and Means Committee released the bill and it is now in “Third Reading” which is the final stage before going up for a vote and then moving onto the Senate. There is a push to get it passed before the end of the Governor’s term and it’s looking very hopeful. We will await action alerts from Mass. Coalition for the Homeless and should anticipate advocacy on the Senate side, especially for our region’s senators on the Senate Ways and Means Committee (Senators Brewer, Downing and Humason). Pamela will send out action alerts as soon as available.

This bill authorizes services for unaccompanied homeless youth, a critical first step in gaining more funding to support those services.

Next meeting: Wed., 12/10, 10 am, Behavioral Health Network, 417 Liberty Street, Springfield