Regardless of whether it is through a youth-specific coordinated entry (CE) process or a single CE process serving all populations, including youth, there are critical youth factors for communities to consider when developing a CE process to ensure it is appropriate for youth. Several of these considerations are:
- Youth-Centered: The CE process should be built on relationships between adults and youth that are empowering to youth and based on positive youth development principles.
- Safe, Inviting, and Accessible Access Points: Access point locations–physical and virtual–should be safe, inviting, and easily accessible for youth, taking into account where youth congregate and other important aspects of local youth culture. Continuums of Care (CoCs) must decide whether they will operate a youth-specific access point for CE with dedicated and specially trained staff or make sure that all general access points have the cultural and linguistic competency to meet youth needs. The important decisions involved in establishing access points highlight why a broad range of stakeholders, including youth providers, should be involved in the CoC and in the planning and implementation of the CE process.
- Comprised of Knowledgeable and Trained Staff: Any staff involved in the CE process who will interact with youth – whether at a standalone access point, emergency shelter, or through street outreach – should be adequately trained, meaning they are knowledgeable about topics such as, developmentally appropriate solutions, the eligibility and documentation requirements for the dedicated homeless resources and applicable mainstream resources available through a referral from the CE process.
- Developmentally-Appropriate and Trauma-Informed: The CE process and those working directly with youth should be aware of youth brain development, positive youth development frameworks, and trauma frameworks in order to ensure that the CE process as a whole is developmentally appropriate and trauma informed.
- Culturally-Appropriate and Inclusive: The CE process, including any assessment tool used with youth, should be responsive to the characteristics and needs of youth, including age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identification, and language. The definition of “culturally appropriate” for all youth includes youth who have been victims of human trafficking or domestic violence, LGBTQ youth, and pregnant or parenting youth.
- Built on Provider Expertise and Capacity: The CE process for youth should be informed by the expertise and capacity of all youth-serving providers and organizations in a community. Stakeholder engagement in the development, implementation, and process improvement of CE is critical for success.
- Informed by the Youth Intervention Model: The CE process, should be grounded in risk and protective factors as noted in the USICH Youth Framework’s Preliminary Intervention Model.