Youth Special Commission Update: The Report on Youth Homelessness is in draft form. 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.
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.
· 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
- 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
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
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
include pizza, gift cards (if available) and child care
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)
In attendance: Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Anna Cruz, TiLP program (CHD), Serena Daye, Rapid re-housing, Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC (Thrive), Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara Center, Natalie Hill, Gandara Center, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS Homeless Services, Natalie Kyles, Gandara Center, Jacqueline Lozada, RVCC/Holyoke SSYI, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks, Kathie Robies, RVCC/HSSYI, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network
- ease of transportation
- active engagement and recruitment – what is this, why become involved
- use of an anonymous survey to collect background info and feedback around this meeting
- Family instability
- System involvement
- Residential instability
- Extreme disconnection from education, employment and support networks
- LGBTQ youth
- Justice System Involved Youth
- Child Welfare System involved youth
- Sex Trafficked Youth
- Immigrant and Refugee Youth
- Anna will work with Serena to develop a survey for youth that would be utilized as part of an engagement strategy for this committee; she will relay to Jean at CHD and then Jean to Pamela for continued discussion within the committee in advance of the next meeting
- Gerry will reach out to DCF and DYS to recruit representative attendance at their next meeting (Lisa suggested searching out the adolescent outreach staff at DCF)
- Youth engagement: how is the CoC empowering youth to be involved in the decision making; how are their voices being heard in what they think will help them be most successful
- Innovative ideas: what does that mean for our community; what will make a meaningful difference
- Coordinated approach: how is the effort tied to the over-arching goal of building a coordinated entry system; who are we engaging and bringing to the table in this effort, e.g., child welfare, juvenile justice, schools, new community members, low-barrier transitional housing resources
- Data development: how well do we know our data, understand the gap within our system; what are the true numbers and how are they informing a right-fit intervention
- Learning from other communities: how are we gaining from best practices across the country, e.g., Austin, LA, Cleveland and their significant progress on youth engagement
- how are we acquiring and analyzing data across systems, e.g., child welfare and juvenile justice systems – who is aging out, at risk of coming into the system; how are we creating capacity for a predictive analysis in order to create front-end interventions
- how are we closing data collection gaps for non-HMIS providers, ensuring all relevant data gets into HMIS regardless of program’s funding source
- how are we connecting with the school population above and beyond McKinney-Vento liaisons
- how is our data stored and maintained and how is it being utilized on an ongoing basis
- how are our by-name lists – youth, veterans, chronically homeless – being integrated and managed so that the information is streamlined and available across populations
- Further outreach with DCF and DYS, Safe and Successful Youth Initiatives (SSYI) in Holyoke and Springfield
- Further outreach with DEES (Sarah Slautterback) re: training school staff on data input
- Further outreach to mental health and substance use providers (e.g., Gandara’s new Cornerstone program)
- Outreach to Westfield State College staff person Jennifer Propp who is working on homeless youth data collection
- Further outreach to LGBTQ programs
- Further review of the non-homeless providers – who is missing
- Engaging with youth at the very start of the process
- Keeping youth at the table all the time (experience with separate “youth advisory councils” have proven less effective at full engagement)
- Ensuring youth are an active and critical part of the decision making process
- Scheduling meetings at a time and place that are conducive to youth involvement
- Treating youth participation as a paying job
- Training both youth and adults in what it means to do business differently so that youth engagement is a top priority
Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
May 25, 2017
In attendance: Courtney Godbolt, Friends of the Homeless, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS, John Lewis, Springfield Police/Shannon Grant, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Jenny Mills, Youth Build, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Delphine Wray, Friends of the Homeless
Youth Count Debriefs:
The MA sponsored youth count took place over 2 weeks at the start of May.
Hampden County: Kim reported 3-4 events (boys and girls club, STCC, Dunbar, MLK) – STCC generated most contact with approx. 30 surveys. CHD organized an event at HCC which generated approx. 35 surveys. Gerry reported over 100 surveys were completed from parenting youth residing at shelters. This number is greater than last year (except the state has not yet released the results from last year’s surveys). High school outreach was not particularly fruitful. A couple of non-profit organizations complained that they felt tired of being asked to complete surveys without additional engagement. This suggests the need for more sustained follow-up around the services that are available.
Hampshire County: Lisa reported that there were a couple of outreach events, one at ServiceNet, another in Greenfield. She does not have outcome info as she was not directly involved in running these events. She noted that some of the youth that had interacted with ServiceNet had not been referred to DIAL/SELF, which points again to the need for sustained outreach (since it’s not just a matter of “knowing” about the resources are there but really about integrating their existence into the daily work).
Discussion of data collection and analysis as it pertains to understanding the status of the youth homelessness and the system response to it:We returned to question of what data would be useful for this committee to generate to best understand the over-arching questions:
- how many youth are homeless?
- how many are assessed?
- how quickly and in what manner are they getting housed?
- are they staying housed or returning to homelessness?
The broader goal is to determine the amount of youth homelessness and how effective our system is in responding to it and where the gaps lie.
We noted the limits of the State’s quarterly report requirements stemming from the youth grant since they are too detailed and too specific to the programs meeting their grant obligations. The questions listed above require a combination of HMIS data and a by-name list (as successfully demonstrated by Hampden County’s coordinated entry efforts with chronic homeless and veterans; Three County has a coordinated entry retreat scheduled for 6/19). Gerry also noted the development of a new data warehouse for Hampden County that is in process that will greatly increase capacity to pull the data we are interested in.
Kim noted that Gandara Center is currently maintaining a list of youth that seek services but it is not formalized based on the questions listed above. Gerry and Kim will meet to plan for the development of a list that is consistent with coordinated entry. Lisa noted that DIAL/SELF’s youth workers each have a list of who they are currently working with but that is also not an overall cohesive by-name list and it also does not account for the people who are referred but do not make it into services. This goes to the universal challenge of greater outreach and engagement services.
Another area to explore is the intersection between unaccompanied youth and parenting youth who are in the family shelter system – how do the two systems connect, e.g., an unaccompanied youth seeks services through Gandara and then later reveals having a child in the foster care system or at a relative’s home.
For next month’s meeting, we agreed that Gerry and Kim would report back on their meeting around a by-name list; Lisa would share any additional information/thoughts on reporting; we will further discuss the outreach to family providers working with parenting youth.
State Budget Update: The Senate Amendment to increase the youth funding to $4 million did not pass but the $2.5 million for youth is still in the Senate budget which is $.5 million over last year’s funding (and $1.5m over the House Budget). Debate is still underway about language ensuring a Youth Commission.
New Youth Housing in Northampton: Lisa announced the great news of the purchase of youth housing in Northampton. Click here for the flyer.
Next Meeting Date: Wed., July 5, 10 am – 11:30 am, Holyoke Public Library