Category Archives: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting – 1/13/15

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes
January 13, 2016

In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Pam Cook, Gandara Center, Dawn DiStefano, Square One, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Charlie Knight, SCARF/Rainville, Jay Levy, Eliot CHS-Homeless Services, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks, Denise Rivera, Friends of the Homeless, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Alicia Stacy, YWCA, Mark Watkins, Gandara Center

Reviewed Point in Time Count youth outreach sheet:

Thanks to Andrea Miller for collating tips and creating outreach sheet (click here).

One edit: change bullet of “have other resources to hand out if the youth wants them, regardless of whether they participate in the count” to ”Distribute information on local resources.” Pamela will relay to Andrea.

Discussion of EHSS RFR:
EHHS has released an RFR (due 2/2) that will utilize the $2 million allocated for the youth services and housing in the FY16 budget. The RFR allows for up to 5 grants and requires that urban, rural and suburban regions are funded. An application must be paired with the larger coordinated entry application (3-5 grants, allocating $900,000 statewide) for the region.

The group discussed the issue of whether the Network would apply as the lead agency (via its fiscal sponsor United Way of Pioneer Valley) or whether 2 CoC’s would apply separately. The coordinated entry issue suggests CoC specific applications since the coordinated entry systems are being built separately as a result of the distinct populations and large geography across the sub-regions. Since the youth application must mirror the coordinated entry application for the geographic region, we may be compelled to do two separate applications for the youth piece. However, the CoC’s with Network support can collaborate on the applications to ensure a coordinated approach across the region.

A bidders’ conference on 1/15 will help answer a lot of questions about the best direction. United Way and CoC’s will be represented there.

We want to make sure we use the Network role and reputation in support of whatever we do. We want to make sure that we incorporate the regional flow of youth across the entire region in each application (assuming there are 2) and build systems that talk to teach other.

Community Action of Franklin/Hampshire and the Quabbin has expressed interest in being the lead applicant in the Three County CoC. They will be investigating further as well.

The RFR seeks focus on reaching the at-risk population further “upstream” – prevention and diversion. We need to identify the gaps and how we close them.

Other brainstorm ideas:

  • Consider funding a youth coordinator who serves as the designated liaison to resources and information and who has access to the flexible funds.
  • Explore more strategies about how to re-connect youth 18 and older with their families.
  • Explore more about the host home model and mentoring programs.
  • Connect more with (and possibly help build) Berkshire based youth programs, e.g., Reconnect Center in Pittsfield.
  • Integrate street outreach and coordinated assessment across each county (Dial/SELF now has funding to do street outreach in Hampshire)
  • Frame our “no wrong door” approach to triage case management across the region while at the same time developing expertise and centralized knowledge that agencies can draw on
  • Develop standard assessment tools and basis for distributing resources
  • Develop and utilize “natural” youth supports (as opposed to a volunteer inserting him/herself suddenly in a young person’s life); need to draw on and nurture pre-existing relationships

We will continue this conversation via email following the bidders’ conference this Friday.

Network FY17 Budget Priorities:

Pamela summarized the Network process for determining its FY17 budget priorities, which includes each committee making recommendations for Leadership Council consideration. The Leadership Council will review and vote at its next meeting on 1/20. These priorities will define the Network advocacy for the FY17 budget cycle.

Support funding for youth housing and related support services for $4 million. This priority is shared by MA Coalition for the Homeless and is a “repeat ask” from last fiscal year (which resulted in $2 million in funding). The Committee recognizes that the need continues and would like to see the full funding needed to meet the need.

Support Home and Healthy for Good for $3.8 million, a program that provides permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless, including a program for LGBTQ unaccompanied homeless youths, one of which is funded in Franklin County through Dial/SELF.   This priority is shared by CHAPA and MA Coalition for the Homeless.

Unanimous support for both legislative priorities.

Next meeting: Wed., Feb. 10, 9:30 am – 11 am, location to be determined (Gandara Center is not available then; will check with Northampton Senior Center).

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes – 12/9/15

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting
December 9, 2015

In attendance: Pamela Cook, Gandara Center SHINE program, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Tracy Maldonado, CHD (street outreach), Rebecca Muller, GrantWorks, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Special Commission Update: The Commission has not met since our last meeting. No word back on work group meeting on demonstration projects ($2m allocation). Pamela emailed Danielle Ferrier regarding our group’s recommendations on allocation but has not heard back.

Point in Time/Youth Count Update – While the Commission’s youth count will likely not take place until the Spring, we agreed that we should take steps to maximize identification of homeless youth in the upcoming CoC Point in Time in January. Lisa Goldsmith and Jean Rogers will consult with their staff and develop a draft one pager with “tips for interacting with youth” for use during the count. They will provide the first draft by January 7 and we will finalize at our next committee meeting on Jan. 13.

Rebecca Muller also noted the new 2 pager from HUD which provides greater definition of youth homelessness. She will send it along (see attached).

Screening Tool: how to strike balance of offering resources without over-stepping and scaring off young people

Coordinated Assessment and Referral:
Gandara Center is committed to using it. No referrals yet with which to experiment but will do so at first opportunity.

Lizzy Ortiz suggested utilizing it with homeless students at area community colleges. She will inquire and see if that is possible.

Lisa Goldsmith shared some concerns from her staff:   the VI-SPDAT strikes them as potentially intrusive and not an appropriate match for interacting with vulnerable youth, at least at the start of a relationship. It also does not comport with HMIS reporting requirements (so more data input, and they are currently overwhelmed by the demands of integrating RHYMIS with HMIS). And they do not feel like they have a large enough population to warrant the need for a formal prioritization process (that it essentially obvious which youth would be appropriate for an available unit). In short, we recognized that we need to move slowly and methodically to begin to integrate a new process.

We agreed it would be helpful to learn from others across the country who may have traveled this road before us. Lisa will do some inquiries about that (e.g., with Urban Peak and Houston).

Resource Referral Sheet: We agreed that we need to revisit this production effort to clarify our audience and purpose since as currently drafted, it is unclear who will actually use this tool. We agreed that starting with the “tip” sheet for the PIT count may be a useful way in to this clarity (what are we trying to offer and to whom). We will take this up again at our next meeting.

Next meeting date:

January 13
9:30 – 11:00 am
Gandara Center
1236 Main Street, Holyoke

Agenda items:
Special Commission update
VI-SPDAT input
PIT count (tips for reaching youth)
Resource referral sheet
Legislative priorities for recommendation to Leadership Council

Special Homeless Youth Meeting to Discuss Statewide Funding Allocation – 11/18/15

At the Network’s Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee meeting last week, we learned that the Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth has created a “Demonstration Project” Work Group.  This Work Group is charged with making recommendations for the allocation of the FY16 state budget’s first-time allocation of $2 million for unaccompanied homeless youth housing and support services.

We agreed to come together for a special meeting to brainstorm our own committee’s recommendations for their consideration.  This conversation will have a broad statewide policy lens, not specific to the Western region per se while of course integrating our regional needs. And we welcome your input and participation.

We will meet on:

Wednesday, November 18
9:30 – 10:30 am
Northampton Senior Center
67 Conz Street, Northampton

Please RSVP to Pamela Schwartz at if you plan to attend so we can ensure we have the necessary meeting space.

Thanks and looking forward to this exciting conversation.



Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 10/14/15

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
October 14, 2015

In attendance: Tom Baker, LUK, Pamela Cook, Gandara Center, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Rani Gould, YWCA, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, GrantWorks, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Mark Watkins, Gandara Center

Youth Resource and Referral Hand-out: we reviewed the draft document (see attached) and provided a range of feedback, e.g., how to better phrase the inquiry around homelessness, age, geographic location. We also discussed the questions leading into the referrals and did some tweaking around the domestic violence question, mental health follow-up. Pamela will connect Jay and Jean on the mental health question framing. We agreed that we will break down the information with Hampden County on one side of the sheet and Three County on the other. Thanks to Jean Rogers for collating the information.

We agreed it would be useful to provide a more youth-oriented user-friendly hand-out that summarized resources (1/4 page, card-stock). Franklin County offers this now and will send it around. Lizzy noted that Worcester provided something similar at a conference. Gerry would like to produce this for Hampden County. Rebecca will follow-up around Berkshire County.

We agreed we would review our next draft of the referral resource by 10/28.

Youth specific coordinated assessment: We discussed the TAY-VI-SPDAT and the need to collect feedback around the most appropriate youth assessment tool and how it may vary from the standard adult assessment VI-SPDAT (e.g., the youth score lower on the VI-SPDAT because the mortality questions are less likely to apply). Our goal is to identify the highest priority youth to serve.

Gerry will search out tools to compare and send them along for review. We agreed that we would look primarily to the feedback from our committee members who directly serve youth – Kim, Jean, Lisa and Rani. We are looking to their opinions around the tool’s effectiveness for prioritizing youth housing needs (PSH, transitional, rapid rehousing).

We will aim for exchanging that feedback via email by 10/28.

Special guest Tom Baker of LUK: Tom shared that they are currently working on creating a new youth network in N. Worcester County as well as providing technical assistance around Runaway Homeless Youth issues.   While our region is primarily out of their service area, there is some overlap in the North Quabbin Area (which Dial/SELF serves). All agreed that right now there are basically no services at all for youth in this sub-region. Dial/SELF and LUK will follow-up on possibilities for pooling resources and building connections.

CoC Application Questions:

Gerry led a conversation to help respond to the questions posed in HUD’s CoC application, including: how we are responding to human trafficking among homeless youth, LGBT youth homelessness, strategies for exits from foster care into homelessness, prioritization for youth housing and services and more.

Kim Majewski provided an update on the efforts through DCF to educate and prepare for intervention around the issue of human trafficking and Hampden County’s Coalition to Identify and Prevent Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. Click here to learn more.

Next meeting: November 4, 10 am – 11:30 am, Gandara Center, 1236 Main Street, Route 5N, Holyoke