Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 7/17/19

In attendance:  Katy Abel, MA Department of Higher Education, Kim Borden, Berkshire Regional Housing Authority, Amber Connors, YWCA of Western MA, Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Leslie Fisher-Katz, Children’s Study Home, J. Froneberger, CHD, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Kara Knott, UMass Amherst, Gretchen LaBonte, UMass Amherst, Ann Lentini, Domus,  Phil Ringwood, DIAL/SELF, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden CoC/City of Springfield, Spencer Moser, MCLA, Mena Regan, CHD, Elizabeth Rivera, HCC, Christina Royal, HCC, Tony Sbalbi, HCC, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Beth Wallace, Berkshire Community College, 

MA Student Housing Security Pilot – Presentation and DiscussionSpecial Guest: Katy Abel, Associate Commissioner for External Affairs & Special Projects, MA Department of Higher Education
Katy presented on the “MA Student Housing Security Pilot,” a pilot project funded by the MA Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless begun in Jan. 2019 and funded through FY20. Four 4-year universities are partnering with community colleges to provide up to 5 beds for students identified by campus staff or local service providers as experiencing homelessness. 

Findings thus far post this first semester:  

19 students enrolled
17 completed the Spring semester
GPA: 10 over 3.0 (9 had over 3.0 prior to enrolling in this program)
6 of 19 had course withdrawals (reasons not listed)
13 of 19 were active on campus in various activities

Overwhelming feedback from the students: “grateful” and “now I can focus on my work.”

The Youth Commission is seeking funding to assist with more formal evaluation.  

Cost of this program is estimated at roughly $800 students per month.  Katy was encouraging private fundraising to expand the program as well.

In addition to a college pilot, DHCD is devoting a building in Malden formerly utilized by DMH clients to 11 new SRO units that will be allocated to college students (called the “K house).  It will serve students attending Roxbury CC, Bunker Hill CC, Mass Art and UMass Boston. This will be available to students of all ages because it is DHCD funded as opposed to Youth Commission funded (where the limitation is 18-25 years). 

DHCD is also devoting some of its Moving to Work Section 8 vouchers to increase housing options for this population.

Is expansion of this program to Western MA possible?
We discussed this question explicitly. Both Westfield State University and Holyoke Community College have expressed interest in a partnership.

Additional state funding will first depend on the outcome of the FY20 state budget.  Still waiting for its release from Conference Committee.  Both the House and Senate increased the youth line-item so it is hopeful we will see additional monies available.  Next question is how they are allocated. Katy encouraged the following to put Western MA in the best position to receive funds:

  • advocate to Linn Torto of MA ICHH
  • address anticipated barriers, e.g., transportation needs
  • anticipate how to meet food costs (colleges are responsible); begin conversations with college’s student affairs offices
  • encourage allocation of MTW vouchers from Holyoke Housing Authority

Discussion of other resources/networking opportunities:
The group exchanged information about its various programs and resources.  Below are a few highlights:

  • Jose of STCC noted that federal TRIO funds can be utilized to pay for housing during school break times – this is a big breakthrough and provided emergency motel funds for a student who would otherwise have been sleeping on the street last night
  • Campus food insecurity network: United Way of Pioneer Valley is convening a monthly meeting of colleges to address this topic.  Please contact Jennifer Kinsman at jkinsman@uwpv.org if interested in joining.
  • NESTERLY – this is an intergenerational website that matches seniors with an extra room with people who can rent at a reduced price in exchange for care of house-related needs
  • It was noted that it’s vitally important to have students IN THE ROOM when having these discussions; we will discuss this further at our next meeting
  • DHCD eligibility requirements for shelter frequently create a barrier for students.  Gerry pointed out that one night in a hotel qualifies a person as “homeless” under DHCD rules.
  • A hearing on campus food insecurity bill is taking place at the State House on 7/23. Pamela will relay details.
  • Katy recommended attending REAL COLLEGE conference in Houston on 9/28.  She will forward info and Pamela will relay.

Other Network Updates:
Pamela reported on recent legislative activity that involved Network advocacy. On July 16 at the State House there were two Committee hearings on Network priority bills:

  • Right to Counsel for tenants in eviction proceedings (in 2018, 92% of tenants went to housing court without a lawyer, while over 70% of landlords were represented; this imbalance has a direct impact on homelessness); and
  • The HOMES Act (eviction sealing) which would automatically seal an eviction record upon filing and only be released (for a maximum of 3 years) if there is a finding against the tenant.  Right now, the filing of an eviction becomes an instant public record regardless of whether the tenant did anything wrong or counter-claimed against the landlord or had their case dismissed or entered into an agreement.  This poses a significant barrier for tenants looking for housing. 
  • Cliff Effects pilot program and state data reporting: These bills would address the “cliff effect” – the sudden drop in income and other public assistance when there is an increase in earnings that puts the individual further behind in resources.  State data reporting would require cross-agency reporting to better understand who is impacted by the cliff effect and the pilot program would provide a test vehicle (with 50 families, located in Western MA) for reducing the impact. 
  • Act of Living bill which would create basic civil and human rights protections for people experiencing homelessness.

The Network submitted testimony on all these bills.  Our Western MA delegation is very supportive and frequently in the lead.  Thank you, legislators!

Please join the Network blog at https://westernmasshousingfirst.org to stay most connected to the Network advocacy and participate in it.  It is NOT TOO LATE for organizations to introduce testimony (several Network partners have done so already). Please contact Pamela to discuss further.

Next meeting date:  Wed., August 7, 9:30 am – 11:00 am, Frost Building, Room 309, Holyoke Community College

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes – 6/5/19

In attendance: Jamila Bradley, Aaronson consulting, Emily English, Gandara Center, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Rebecca Muller, Grant Works, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Jeff Olivet, Jo consulting, Mena Regan, CHD, Phil Ringwood, DIAL/SELF, Justine Sabbs, Holyoke Housing Pamela Schwartz, Network, Elorie Stevens, DCF

DCF/DYS etc training feedback (5/23 training of state agency staff on youth services): Elorie provided the group feedback summary information.  Overall, the feedback was excellent; people found the information very useful, especially appreciated the take-aways that summarized available resources and contact info; also especially appreciated hearing from youth directly and would suggest more of that in the future.  
We agreed we will continue this collaboration and discuss further around how to provide a follow-up training next year. 

Hampden County Foster Care Project Update:  Gerry provided a report on next steps with the outside team supporting the work to partner with the foster care system to prevent youth homelessness. The current broad-strokes plan is to convene a group of 15 people, at least half of whom have experienced foster care (some of whom have also experienced homelessness), along with state agency leaders and providers for an intensive weekend of work over the summer, followed up by 2 1/2 day sessions. Gerry has reached out to Linn Torto of MA ICCH as well as other state agencies for their involvement.  They are very receptive.   It was suggested to include foster parents in the group.  Gerry will keep us posted as these meetings unfold.

Youth Needs Assessment Discussion:Jeff Olivet and Jamila Bradley, both of whom are part of the team working with both CoC’s on their EOHHS-funded youth needs assessment, attended to provide us with initial findings.  The full report will be released at the end of June.
Some feedback from the young adult focus groups included: shelters for adults are not safe places for young people; DCF case managers can be very helpful getting them connected to services; the best resource is each other.

Young adults were very receptive to the concept of partnering with adults; they do believe that most people care for them and have a lot of tools to offer.  They perceive themselves as being able to handle a lot of change quickly.  They are afraid of being overlooked.  They want to be able to develop new skills and ways of doing things and do not want to be seen as dangerous (they experience a lot of negative bias). They experience a lot of landlord discrimination based on a number of factors, e.g., limited employment history, no credit, CORI, etc. 

They would like adults to be better trained around racism, classism, gender bias.  

They expressed interest in dorm living concept and were excited by the idea of converting abandoned spaces into living spaces with multiple functions.  The conversation underscored the priority on a flexible continuum of housing options.   

Hospitals and health care systems are two areas that need strengthening in partnerships. School liaisons are another area as they are seeing a large number of homeless students.  
There was a general recognition of a lack of resources for young people ages 15-16. 

Reasons for homelessness:Hampden County: more to do with overcrowding – deep, multi-generational povertyThree County: more to do with family dysfunctionBut across the board, there was general finding of youth WANTING to leave

Hampden County LGBTQ – a finding of lower than average numbers which suggests a hidden population.

Berkshire County: lack of access to psychiatry and general mental health services.

The phenomenon of “calling Jake” or “calling Bobby” – while personal relationships are key for young people working with providers, the system is NOT a system when providers must rely on a particular individual to access services (i.e., calling Jake).  This is overwhelmingly the case in Berkshire County where there is such a severe shortage of resources. 

The Point in Time count grossly undercounts the number of homeless youth (see national studies on 1 in 10 18-25 year olds experience homelessness over the course of the year; 1 in 30 for 12-17 year old). There is so much invisible homelessness – couch surfing, stigma, etc.
The annual count is the “floor” – the national number is the “ceiling” – and our actual number is somewhere in between. 

College outreach – a very high rate of homelessness among college students, as much as 10%. There was discussion of getting all community colleges connected to each other (3 county had a good meeting with GCC and UMass).  We want to explore expanding the pilot on housing at state universities into this region.

What’s next in FY20: Hampden County has raised money to support ongoing planning work (and the CoC will contribute as well).  Will expand work to colleges, hospitals, general system-building.  

Next meeting: Reaching out to Katy Abel, the state liaison on the college pilot project, to have her attend our July meeting to learn more.  
Scheduled next meetings: July 17 – CONFIRMED  with Katy Abel and Linn Torto – 10:30-noon, Kittredge Center, Room 301, HCCAugust 7, 9:30-11- CONFIRMED – Frost Building, Room 309, HCCSept. 18, 10:30 am – 12 noon – CONFIRMED – Frost Building, Room 309, HCC
Resource Fair Monday June 10 – 15 legislators will be attending.  We will feature youth homelessness (and the $1.7 million funding increase on the line)

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Minutes – 4/7/19

In attendance:  Emily English, Gandara, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc. Jane Lindfors, DTA-DV unit, Rebecca Muller, Gandara, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Denise Rivera, FOH, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Elorie Stevens, DCF, Kelly Wessels, DIAL/SELF

Youth Count: April 12 – May 12It is underway! Go here for materials:  http://mahomeless.org/advocacy/item/youth-count-2019.

Hampden County: Emily reported outreach underway with guidance counselors at schools; an event planned at The Impact Center in Springfield on 5/7 from 3:30 pm – 6:00 pm; working with HCC and STCC to do an event; outreach to ROCA and Samaratin Inn and ongoing with FOH. Gerry reported packets will be available at her office as soon as the Spanish version is available (should be next week).  For more info, contact Fina Full-Kay at ffulla-kay@springfieldcityhall.com.

3 county: Lisa is doing outreach across the region; sending the link and materials to all.  Kelly from DIAL/SELF is also doing outreach. 
See below for contacts for gift cards for youth participants and for any other questions.

Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP): Both CoCs (Hampden for the 3rd time; 3 county for the first) are applying for this HUD-funded opportunity that will eventually provide at least $1 million in funding for youth services (and then renewal grants thereafter).  The application is due May 15.  3 County is applying as a “rural” region for Franklin County only.  Gerry hopes to have a draft ready by the end of next week for review if interested. Lisa discussed how this process will be very useful no matter the funding outcome, both in terms of mapping the system and in creating a Youth Advisory Board and gaining greater youth participation in helping to shape effective responses.

EOHHS Grant updates: Hampden:  29 intakes for youth have been taken since early December, with 4 of them receiving ongoing 12-month rapid re-housing.  The Needs Assessment has completed many of the core tasks and the team was able to present some preliminary findings at the early April meeting.  They have hired a part-time housing specialist, increasing their outreach and direct contact with youth and providing more referrals to needed services (e.g., mental health).  CHD and Gandara are meeting weekly with the Impact Center; they had a meeting with Samaratin Inn; going to Friends of the Homeless regularly – lots of good contact and relationship building. 

3 County: the program has interacted with a total of 59 young people (31 experiencing homelessness); 7 young people received flexible funds for rent or utilities.  Lisa is pursuing greater clarity around the definition of “at risk”.” They are continuing to work on building linkages between shelter and youth providers. DIAL/SELF is meeting individual shelter staff and building relationships.  They are also working on their Needs Assessment. 

Collaboration: We discussed in general the evolving collaborations taking place as a result of the youth programs underway (funded by EOHHS).  For example, in Hampden County, Gandara and CHD are working to develop an “outreach calendar” for the region that makes available to all a schedule for various outreach days at various locations (e.g., HCC, ROCA), independent of a particular agency’s “ownership.”  The movement is towards a “youth response TEAM” that serves young people at risk in a coordinated way across all agencies.  They hope to have the calendar ready for release by early May. 

We also discussed coordinated entry developments.  Hampden County was meeting monthly but elected to increase their meetings to weekly to allow for greater collaboration and more immediate problem-solving. Elorie at DCF requested that DCF participate in these meetings and Pamela will confirm the connection is made.  Ann at Domus will discuss with her staff person getting trained to participate in coordinated entry. In 3 County, Kelly updated the group about Soldier On’s new “google form” being used to track housing vacancies (an interim step while the Green River database gets up and running). It was noted that the process of coordinated entry is still getting up and running overall (e.g., providers still seeking clarity about who to call/what to do when faced with a young person at risk of or experiencing homelessness).  

Rebecca noted (and we all agreed) the immense progress happening in building our youth response system; how all the various components – from the OrgCode trainings on “thinking like a system” to “how to run an awesome shelter” to “diversion” with the EOHHS resources and strategies, needs assessments and YHDP opportunity – A LOT OF GROWTH!  And a big salute to all the providers making it happen.

Youth services training for DCF – 5/23, HCC: The invitation from DCF is out to state agencies – DCF, DYS, Probation, Juvenile Court, Congregate Care, etc – limiting to 10 staff people per agency.  Our working group – Lisa, Emily, Tyrese, Phil, Jean, Gerry and Pamela – have met by phone to plan the day (and are meeting again on Tuesday 4/23 at 3 pm – please let Pamela know if you would like to participate).  Note: this training is being offered by DCF for state agency staff; the Network is providing the training (as opposed to this being a trainer for Network partners far and wide – no literal capacity for that!).  Pamela will reach out to DHCD to see if they want to participate (especially in light of a change in regs that now has young parents between 21-23 referred to DTA, not DHCD, for young parent shelter – this age used to be 20 for that referral).  

Youth Count Contacts (for gift cards for youth completing the surveys and other questions):

Berkshire County:Jacob Hogue, Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority 413-443-7138 or 1-800-248-9002 x226  jacobh@bcrha.com
Franklin and Hampshire County:Kelsey Wessels or Sam Pepe, DIAL/SELF Youth and Community Services413-774-7054 x 4 (general intake #) kwessels@dialself.org or spepe@dialself.org
Hampden County: Mark Watkins at the Gandara Center 413-654-1554 mwatkins@gandaracenter.org
Jean Rogers or Tyrese Tillman, CHD413-781-6556 jrogers@chd.org or ttillman@chd.org

Family Services Meeting Minutes – 4/10/19

n attendance: Rebecca Burgos, CFCE West Springfield, Hillary Cronin, VA,, Brenda Garcia, BHN Project Fit, Jill Fijal, Chicopee Public Schools, Jenise Kataliina, Square One, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Donna Nadeau, DHCD

Built for Zero Update: Pamela updated the group on her attendance at the Built For Zero Learning Session in Atlanta, GA in late March as part of the Hampden County CoC team. This is a very exciting initiative – over 70 CoCs and communities represented with 500 people from across the country – working as part of a national initiative (led by the national organization Community Solutions) in collaboration with HUD, VA and the US Interagency on Homelessness. Its first focus is to end veteran homelessness (several communities have celebrated this milestone; Hampden County has set June 30 for its goal!).  “Ending” means reaching “functional zero” where the number of people experiencing homelessness each month is less than the average number of people who are rehoused (i.e., the “outflow” is larger than the “inflow”). After achieving veteran homelessness, the initiative will focus its efforts on ending chronic homelessness and then all forms of homelessness (youth and family).

Built for Zero considers itself a movement for social change, anchored in fundamental grassroots organizing principles (there is no such thing as doing “for” only “with”), entirely data-driven and using that data to make highly measurable progress.  It is positively inspiring to be a part of it!
Pamela shared this information with the new 3 County CoC lead – Community Action – and they are participating in a webinar on 4/9 about how new communities can join.  We will all stay tuned.  The next national convening will be in October and meanwhile the work in Hampden County continues with the countdown to ending veteran homelessness by June 30.  

School Liaison/Shelter Provider Update: Jill Fijal of Chicopee Public Schools reported out on the Network meeting of school liaisons and shelter providers to build stronger partnerships so students living in shelters are better served and connected to services.  School liaisons will offer a training for all shelter case managers on July 23 to train them on McKinney Vento policies and resources.  Jill is the liaison on this.  Thank you, Jill!

Child Care Voucher/Head Start/CFCE Training: As a follow-up to the new EEC voucher regulations and our outreach on Head Start and CFCE, the Network is sponsoring a training on Tuesday, April 30, 9:30 am – 11:30 am at Holyoke Community College – Kittredge Center, Room 301.  Please register here.   We clarified that Sara Garvin of NEFWC will be participating in the EEC training; Rebecca Burgos will be the point person for the CFCE outreach and we will maximize the turn-out of shelter case managers to this training so they are in possession of this information as they serve families. 

MA Youth Count: April 12 – May 12 – Go here for the surveys and related information.

FY20 State Budget Update: Pamela, in combination with various Network partners, has been leading meetings with Western MA state legislators regarding the Network’s FY20 budget priorities.  Today, Network partners got an audience with Senate President Spilka who joined a planned meeting with Senator Anne Gobi (from Ware and Palmer), a fabulous opportunity to bring Western MA needs to the highest levels of state government!

Register for the Resource Fair!Monday, June 10, 9 am – 12 noon, Holyoke Community College.  

To register to attend: go here

To register to request table space to share resources: go here (note: if you’re having a table but have additional staff attending, please register on the general attendance link as well).

Next meeting date: Tuesday, May 14, 11 am – 12:30 pm, Frost Building, Room 309, Holyoke Community College.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 3/20/19

In attendance: Peter Cofoni, DCF, MarleneCorales, Westover Job Corps, Emily English, Gandara Center, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Ann Lentini, Domus, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden County CoC, Magnus Monroe, Davis Foundation, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical Center, Phil Ringwood, DIAL/SELF, Ellorie Stevens, DCF, Tyrese Tillman, CHD Safety Zone, Kelsey Wessels, DIAL/SELF

EOHHS Youth Grant Updates:Three County CoC:

  • Between Jan and March: 69 young people were connecting to services; 29 new young people served and 17 under the EOHHS grant. 20 young people have been housed. 
  • Winter shelter planning: discussions underway with shelter providers to make shelters more youth-focused
  • Needs assessment: RFP has been issued to obtain a consultant
  • Coordinated Entry: paused due to CoC transition between Hilltown CDC and Community Action

Hampden County:

  • 31 young people are currently housed. 
  • Needs assessment: consultants have been retained and meetings are underway, both with providers and young people focus groups. On April 4, there will be a debrief session with the consultants. 9:30 am – 12:30 pm at UMass Springfield.  Stay tuned for details. 
  • Coordinated Entry: Gandara and CHD are meeting at least monthly and are now the main points of entry for coordinated entry.  Working towards expanding the entry points and referral sources.  The outreach to DCF will be part of that. 
  • Youth shelter: working on locating space.  Meanwhile staff have been hired and are being trained and utilized for outreach. 

MA Youth Count:  Will take place between 4/12- 5/12. Planning is underway for outreach and identification.  DCF will be enlisted as part of the outreach.  MassHire Holyoke is holding a career services fair focused on youth on April 10, 4-6 pm, War Memorial in Holyoke.  Contact Gladys LeBron of MassHire Holyoke for follow-up. 

DCF training on May 23, 10 am – 12  noon, Kittredge Center, HCC: Elorie reminded us of the cross-training audience – staff from DCF, DYS, probation, etc. We clarified our goals and objectives: 

  • to gain an understanding of available services to address youth homelessness
  • when in contact with a young person who is at risk or currently homeless, to learn how to access the system, what is the full-service continuum
  • to get information on the eligibility guidelines for each program

We will have tables with information available.  We will provide summary sheets of programs and eligibility criteria.
Pamela will convene a conference call to plan further with:  Emily, Phil, Lizzy, Lisa, Tyrese, Gerry 

YHDP grant: HUD issued next round of grant opportunity for CoC for community response to youth homelessness.  Hampden County is applying again (previous applications did not score quite high enough). This time able to rely on the additional input from needs assessment and foster care project and the development of a youth advisory board.

Foster Care Collaboration Update – The journey mapping is underway to look at the trajectory for youth ages 14 to mid-20’s.  A  group of 8 youth met yesterday; very productive conversation.  

Be sure to sign up for the Annual Resource Fair on June 10 if you haven’t already!
To register to attend: go here.To register to request table space to share resources: go here

Next meeting dates:
4/17, 9:30 am, Kittredge Center, Room 203
5/8, 9:30 am, Holyoke Public Library
6/5, 9:30, Kittredge Center, Room 303

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 2/13/19

In attendance: Emily English, Gandara Center, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara Center, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Gerry McCafferty, Hampden County CoC, Magnus Monroe, Davis Foundation, Rebecca Muller, Gandara Center, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Kelsey Wessels, DIAL/SELF

EOHHS Youth Grant Updates3 County update:Focusing right now on needs assessment and winter sheltering.  Meeting with ServiceNet to discuss potential accommodations for youth in their shelter (while moving towards a youth only shelter).  Looking at a “youth protocol” for shelters based on a protocol developed by Father Bill’s shelter on the South Shore. On the assessment, will likely retain a consultant to assist with the project; currently gathering information. 

Hampden County Update:

  • Gandara (sub-grantee) has housed 4 people with long-term RRH assistance. Gandara is working on the youth shelter space but in the meanwhile is also working with Friends of the Homeless on the same youth protocol issue. Gerry is facilitating this conversation.  Above all the priority is to ensure youth who enter the adult shelter are quickly connected to youth specific services. Gerry will send to Pamela Father Bill’s protocol and she will send it out to the committee.  (Note post meeting: the link is here.)
  • CHD is close to hiring prevention and outreach person.
  • Retained consultant to do 3 things:  (1) needs assessment; (2) help with youth engagement and creation of a youth action board and (3) to improve chances of getting federal Youth Homelessness Demonstration project grant (3rd chance happening this Spring).  Hired Matt Aronson consulting (used to work at HUD, created YHD program). Currently cataloguing all services and collecting all contacts for needs assessment. Gerry sent out initial draft documents to the committee, requesting input. 
  • Consultants will be in town March 1 and March 8.  Kick-off meeting on March 1, 9 -10:30 am – Union Station, Springfield, 2nd floor
  • Hopeful that this planning and assessment process will provide for greater outreach opportunities when the state youth count occurs in May. 

Data reporting for both CoCs: Because this state grant requires some data that is not required by HMIS, e.g., LGBTQ status, 3 county and Hampden are working with Green River consulting firm to create an intake within the system which will collect all the required data. Currently being tested, will roll out completely soon.

Monthly data report for this committee:  We agreed it would be useful to get summary data on the grants on the:

# of youth referred
# of youth engaged
# of youth housed 

Also it would be useful to put these grant outcomes in the context of all youth housing work, i.e., “how many youth were housed this month?”

Hampden County Foster Care/Homelessness Project:Foster Care Intervention Project
Through the Hampden CoC’s work with the national Built for Zero campaign, it got connected to a nationwide study on the relationship between foster care and youth homelessness. A consulting firm, along with a graduate program in NYC, funded by a private family foundation (The Larson Family Foundation), focuses on “human-centered” designs of social programs. They interviewed a number of communities and selected two nationwide: Springfield/Hampden County and Phoenix, AZ.  We won the lottery! 

They will be doing a deep investigation on the journey from foster care to homelessness; will design interventions based on what they learn from our community, informed by data, will help implement pilot projects in response and study their impact, and eventually roll out these recommended practices nationwide.

There was an initial meeting last week where they explained the project as a whole. First step is “journey mapping” – pulling in the expertise from service providers and youth directly, on what happens in the journey from foster care to homelessness.  First session in Springfield is on March 1, 11 am – 1:30 pm.  Gerry will send out additional info to shelter and youth providers to invite participation.  This will be a 2 year timeline for the whole project, including summer piloting and initial evaluation, then determining interventions and implementing the following year and evaluating.  

Gerry has been in touch with Linn Torto of Mass ICHH who is connecting Gerry with the DCF and DYS Assistant Secretaries.  Will also reach out to DMH. 

OrgCode training report-out:  Lisa, Emily, Sharon and Pamela spoke with Erin Wixsten after the “awesome shelter” training to discuss youth specific strategies.  Click here for the notes.
Family RFI Response:  Youth providers were involved in providing their input to the Family RFI. Click here for the final submission which included young parent recommendations.

DCF Training – May 23, 10 am: We established our working group: Lisa, Jean, Gerry, Emily – Pamela will coordinate a meeting in a couple of weeks and touch base with Elorie Stevens at DCF to confirm plans. 

HUD PIT count Update:The count took place on and around Jan. 30. Emily reported on an outreach event at ROCA where 20 youth were engaged and completed surveys.  The data is being sent to Gerry now (unclear how many were actually homeless).

While it is too soon to have youth-specific results on the count, Gerry reported that 19 unsheltered individuals were identified in Holyoke; in all of Hampden County the unsheltered count was approx. 40, so Holyoke constituted half.  The high Holyoke count is most likely a reflection of the strengthening network within Holyoke – across the police dept., Tapestry, Eliot and other agencies. It’s a paradoxical reflection of progress to actually identify more of the population that is out there.

In 3 county, Pamela was able to relay Jay’s report of 28 total unsheltered individuals counted. 

Career Services Resource Fair: coming up Friday, Feb. 1, 10 am – 12 noon, MassHire Holyoke, 850 High Street, Holyoke

Save the date: 3rd annual Housing and Homelessness Resource Fair for all providers: Monday, June 10, 9:30 am – 12:30 pm, HCC.

Next meeting dates: 
March 20, 10:30 – 12 noon, TBD
April 17, 9:30 am, HCC, KC 302
May 8, 9:30 am, TBD
June 5, 9:30 am, HCC, KC 303

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes – 1/9/18

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes
January 9, 2018

In attendance:  Peter Cofoni, DCF, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, Dial/SELF, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara Center, Ann Lentini, Domus, Mena Regan, CHD/DYS, Denise Rivera, FOH/CSO, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Elorie Stevens, DCF

Discussion with Elorie Stevens, DCF Intensive Placement Coordinator, Western RegionSpecial thanks to Elorie for joining us this morning. 
Elorie explained her role at DCF: as Intensive Placement Coordinator, she works with area offices to identify placements for young people who need a higher level of care; she coordinates the work around Dually Involved Youth (DIY) – both DCF and DYS involved (meet with DYS weekly); meets with DMH and DDS on a monthly basis. 
There are 5 offices in the Western region: 2 in Springfield, 1 in Holyoke, Greenfield and Pittsfield. She shares this job with a counterpart, Jen Coupe. Elorie covers one Springfield office, Holyoke and Greenfield; Jen covers the other Springfield office and Pittsfield. 

We provided an overview of our homelessness system for young adults, Coordinated Entry and our goal of ensuring coordination and communication between our systems so that youth in DCF/DYS at risk of homelessness are linked to homelessness prevention programs as early as possible. We all acknowledged the challenge of young people who are transitioning out of the DCF (or any system) not wanting to be involved – and that resistance making homelessness a greater risk.
Elorie offered to allocate one of DCF’s regular region-wide trainings to learning about youth homelessness-related programs.  These training dates include DCF, DYS, Juvenile Court and other providers, up to 100 total from across the four counties. We said yes! 
We agreed on a date: 

Thursday, May 23, 10 am – 12 noon, Kittredge Center, Rm 301/303. We agreed we would brainstorm a title (note: following the meeting we confirmed this title: Homelessness prevention and re-housing services for young adults: how to access the system and what it offers).  Elorie will do further planning with her planning group; our committee will continue to talk about how best to organize the training.
In addition to adding Elorie to our committee email list, Elorie will reach out to Justin Lak, the Adolescent Outreach Supervisor for the Western region, and invite him to attend our meetings. 
Exciting progress on building our collaboration and huge thanks to Peter for connecting us and Elorie for joining us!

Youth grant update:
Hampden County: a coordinator has been hired for the winter shelter; now hiring direct care staff.  Searching for an appropriate location for the shelter. Continuing to fill rapid re-housing slots. Building collaboration with CHD on diversion and prevention work. 
Three County: working on staffing and creating good data tracking systems. Lisa Goldsmith is moving from Dial/SELF to a new position as homeless youth services manager at Community Action as of Jan. 28 – she will continue the role of managing this grant.

Youth count: Jan. 30
Hampden County: Working with Impact Center, HCC, ROCA on a couple of outreach events
Three County: working with regional contact person in each county to send out information, and with Eliot Services on outreach
Next meeting date: Wed., 2/13, 9:15 – 10:30 am, Kittredge Center, Room 303, HCC.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting – 12/14/18

In attendance:  Peter Cofoni, DCF, Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Ann Lentini, Domus, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Mena Regan, CHD, Denise Rivera-Nuiez, FOH/CSO, Jean Rogers, CHD, Rebecca Muller, Grant Works/Gandara

Implementation of EOHHS youth grants:There was a statewide meeting of all grantees recently. Good toconnect and discuss data issues among other aspects of implementation. This initiative is being guided by Linn Torto of the MA Interagency Council on Homelessness. Contracts have been sent to all regions at this point.

Hampden County: The contract is all but final. Now doing sub-recipient contracts with Gandara and CHD.  CHD is hiring a staffperson to do outreach, prevention and diversion.  Gandara will have several staff to do the same plus run the winter shelter and the administrationof the flex funds.   Winter shelter plans are well underway, deciding on hours with youth input (6 pm – 8 am); will open first in an available church space while looking for more permanent space in a home. 

Three County: still waiting on contract from the state but should be any day now. 

Data collection issues: This program is requiring the reporting of some data points that are not already in HMIS. Because the intention is for this program to be extended up to 8 years, it is worthwhile to address the data needs in a more systematic way. Gerry is convening a meeting of Green River, the consultants that developed the data warehouse (along with other tools) that is being utilized by Hampden and Three County CoCs.  Green River’s system also supports coordinated entry by doing automatic matches between individuals (based on their assessments) and housing units that become available. This system offers tremendous potential for streamlining housing efforts! The hope is to expand the data system to capture the youth experiencing homelessness – both to refer into the system and to refer out, tracking theresources provided and the outcomes.  The meeting with Green River and 3 county and Hampden County providers will take place sometime in January. 

Youth aging out of foster care: Our next meeting in January will include Elorie Stevens, a regional supervisor at DCF, where wewill have a discussion about how to build connections between DCF and coordinated entry to prevent homelessness and maintain housing. 

Gerry reported on a research project out of NY focusing on interventions that prevent homelessness among aging out foster care youth. She referred them to folks on our committee so please stay tuned.

Point in time count: We confirmed that two counts will take placethis year: Jan. 30 as part of the yearly HUD count and sometime in May as partof the statewide youth count. Community colleges and providers will support theJan. 30 count with some outreach efforts (acknowledging the challenge with just returning from winter break). 

Family shelter system re-procurement: We discussed the need to address youth parenting in the family re-procurement process that is underway.  It was noted that young parents need to be treated differently in the system based on their developmental needs and that in general the shelter system needs to look at assessment across the board.  It was also noted that the procurement should address the gap for “off  hours” assistance in general (after 5 pm and weekends).  Pamela will coordinate a conference call with Libby, Emily, Gerry, Lisa (and late-breaking thought by Pamela, Jane Banks).

Next meeting date: Jan. 9, 9 am – 10:30 am, HCC, Frost Building 309