Category Archives: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

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Youth Referral Info; Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Minutes – 2/14/18

Next meeting date and important referral information:
Wednesday, March 14
1:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Frost Building, Barrett Room, Room 301A
Holyoke Community College
 
(Note: Our usual space in Donahue was not available; follow signs for the Frost Building and because it’s spring break parking in the visitor parking right outside of Frost should not be a problem. The Barrett Room is on the first floor as you enter the building.)
Important updates on referral information for youth housing/services:
Domus Inc Westfield youth housing – 10 units in a single site for unaccompanied youth up to age 25.  They must have independent living skills and be engaged in a job or schooling. Contact Connie at 413-568-4494 with referrals.
 
CHD Safety Zone – New funding for 5 transitional housing scattered site units for unaccompanied homeless youth under the age of 22.  Must have independent living skills and in process of obtaining employment or education. Can have children; can self-refer. Contact Jean Rogers at 413-781-6556 or jrogers@chd.org with referrals.
Gandara Center SHINE program – New funding for additional rapid re-housing support (up to 12 months).  2-3 additional scattered site units will be available. Can self-refer. Call Mark Watkins at SHINE at 413-654-1554
Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 2/14/18
In attendance:  Peter Cofoni, DCF, Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Charlie Knight, former consumer, Ann Lentini, Domus, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/Hampden CoC, Juan Rivera, DYS, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network

HUD Demonstration Project: HUD is requesting proposals for the next phase of its Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project.  Only CoCs can apply. Hampden County is applying, Three Count is not. Hampden County applied in the previous funding cycle last year and scored just shy of the funding level.  We are in a good position to apply again and will address some of the identified gaps. If selected, HUD will provide TA to create a youth plan over a 4 month period which will then propose funding specific projects. Selected communities will be funded a minimum of $1 million over a 2 year period (with the potential for continued funding through renewal funds).  11 grants will be awarded across the country; 5 must be from rural areas.  Competition will be fierce.  Due date is April 17.
In support of the proposal (and consistent with planning regardless of funding), Gerry plans to facilitate a needs assessment over the next 2 months which will produce an analysis of available units in relation to youth housing needs, e.g., analysis of disabilities, ability to live independently in general, number of unaccompanied youth and pregnant and parenting youth.
In the last PIT count, tentative findings show there were 26 unaccompanied youth, 2 living unsheltered (in an abandoned building) and 81 young parents with 101 children.
Gerry will also be working with Rebeca Muller on the formation of a Youth Advisory Board.
Rosemary noted that she will be able to provide data on students at HCC facing homelessness.
Housing updates:
Domus Inc Westfield housing – 10 units in a single site for unaccompanied youth up to age 25.  They must have independent living skills and be engaged in a job or schooling. Contact Connie at 413-568-4494 with referrals.
 
CHD Safety Zone – New funding for 5 transitional housing scattered site units for unaccompanied homeless youth under the age of 22.  Must have independent living skills and in process of obtaining employment or education. Can have children; can self-refer. Contact Jean Rogers at 413-781-6556 or jrogers@chd.org with referrals.
Gandara Center SHINE program – New funding for additional rapid re-housing support (up to 12 months).  2-3 additional scattered site units will be available. Can self-refer. Call Mark Watkins at SHINE at 413-654-1554.
Coordinated entry: Gerry reported that Hampden County’s expanded online data system is now collecting data from agencies beyond CoC funded (e.g., sheriff’s department, hospitals).  Gerry is also reaching out to agencies that serve youth to enter assessment information so young people’s housing needs can also be prioritized in relation to housing vacancies.
Discussion of DCF/DMH silo challenge: there are 2 young people who are homeless and struggling with developmental issues but cannot get DMH eligibility because DCF cannot release information on them (not currently in their custody but have previous records that are relevant to determining their eligibility). Gerry is working with the DCF regional director to try to resolve this.
Gerry is interested in obtaining any other information around system gaps so they can be addressed in this upcoming application.
Ann noted that in general there is a gap in mental health services resulting from agencies merging and cutting back services.  Clients are losing their mental health services with nothing to replace them.  We need to address this.
Next meeting date: Wed., March 14, 1:30-3:00 pm, Rosemary will check on space.

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:   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.

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)

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 8/8/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting
August 8, 2017

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

Overview of purpose/goal of subcommittee:
Rebecca provided an overview of HUD’s new youth funding competition, and the Hampden County CoC’s process to complete a competitive application.  The CoC is receiving HUD funded Technical Assistance in support of the application.  The CoC applied last year and did very well (so as to earn the TA) but not quite well enough to be funded.  Certain weaknesses were identified in the areas of youth engagement and cross-sharing of data among state and other agencies.  The Network Youth Committee will provide the umbrella for this application process.
We welcomed two young people, Anna and Serena, who attended the meeting for the first time and welcomed their feedback around factors that could increase youth engagement.  Together we brainstormed:
  • ease of transportation
  • food
  • active engagement and recruitment – what is this, why become involved
  • use of an anonymous survey to collect background info and feedback around this meeting
Review of Hampden County data (Click here)
The group reviewed a summary of findings around youth homelessness in Hampden County.  Please see attachment.  We also reviewed the research that outlined the primary causes of youth homelessness:
  • Family instability
  • System involvement
  • Residential instability
  • Extreme disconnection from education, employment and support networks
And the youth sub-populations more frequently impacted by homelessness:
  • LGBTQ youth
  • Justice System Involved Youth
  • Child Welfare System involved youth
  • Sex Trafficked Youth
  • Immigrant and Refugee Youth
Gerry noted that parenting youth is also a significant sub-population in our region (106 parenting youth in last year’s Point in Time count), and is a factor in causing homelessness.
The group also briefly reviewed a summary of Gandara’s SHINE youth program findings (click here).
Next steps:
  • 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)
Next meeting date:
Wednesday, 9/13, 4-5:30 pm, HCC, subject to Rosemary’s space inquiry.
Thanks to Jackie and Kathie for the use of their meeting space today.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 7/12/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting
July 12, 2017
 
In attendance: Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Pamela Cook, Gandara SHINE, Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC Thrive Center, Courtnee Godbolt, Friends of the Homeless, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara Center, Natalia Hill, Gandara, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS, Charles Knight, Rainville, Jacqueline Lozada, River Valley Counseling Center, Kim Majewski, Gandara, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Justin Mehl, BHN, Rebecca Muller, GrantsWork/Gandara, Jenniefer Murphy, YWCA, Emily Nolan (by phone), HUD TA, LaRue Pierce, STCC, W. Keith Rhone, FOH/CSO, Katherine Robles, River Valley, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Mark Watkins, Gandara, Rhonda Young, CHD
FY18 Budget Update:
Pamela reported the unfortunate news that the Conference Committee cut the youth services funding from $2 million to $675,000 for FY18.  The Governor is now within the 10 day period to sign or veto budget items. The group discussed the remaining possibility of the Governor proposing a supplemental budget in FY18 to close this funding gap (which is what occurred for part of the funding in FY17).   Pamela will keep the group posted on funding developments as they arise.
Also, please  click here for the complete list of Network priorities and how they fared in the FY18 Conference Committee budget.
HUD Technical Assistance Session on Youth Services Funding:
We were joined by phone Emily Nolan, a HUD TA provider based in Seattle, who is providing 32 hours of HUD funded TA services to the Hampden County CoC in support of its efforts to apply for the next round of HUD youth funding.  The CoC applied in last year’s round and scored high enough to qualify for this TA.  The goal according to Emily is to help the CoC think through its application for this coming round, first confirming it wants to apply and then using this time to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of its last application and what it can learn from both that and other communities’ efforts.
The logistics: HUD will be funding 11 CoC’s for approximately $43 million in total funding; 5 funded communities must be rural.  The application will be released in Sept/October and due in December.
Emily noted the strategic aspect of applying as a rural vs. urban community (urban more competitive; may be worth considering if expanding scope of region strengthens application). However, it was also noted that in view of HUD funding only 11 programs nationwide, 2 separate applications from this region would not be a successful strategy.
HUD’s primary criteria for this initiative:
  • 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
Emily is available to help connect us to peer learning and other best practice resources.
Data Discussion:
Emily reported that the CoC’s application received lower scores on data and evaluation.  She suggested reviewing:
  • 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
In summary, the CoC must demonstrate: the breadth of its information, how it is shared, and how it is used to make its funding and programmatic decisions.
The group brainstormed various action steps:
  • 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
Youth Engagement Discussion
Youth engagement was another area on the CoC’s previous application that requires attention. Emily noted the criteria for meaningful youth engagement include:
  • 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
Strategies for achieving these goals include:
  • 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
Lisa Goldsmith noted that DMH has an excellent youth committee model (based in Boston) that could be helpful for us to explore as an example.
The group committed to pursuing these strategies.  Towards that end, the next meeting of this committee will be:
Tuesday, August 8
4 pm – 5 pm
River Valley Counseling Center (Holyoke SSYI program)
67 Jackson Street, Suite 201
Holyoke
Thanks to Jacqueline Lozada of the Holyoke SSYI program for offering her space.
Gerry will be following-up with others regarding action steps as listed above prior to the next meeting.
The group agreed that these Committee meetings will be utilized in the coming months (until application submission) to develop the strongest possible application which in effect is to develop the strongest possible response to youth at risk of or experiencing homelessness, a response that can benefit the entire Western region.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Minutes – 5/25/17

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