How can CoCs ensure they are taking the needs of all youth into consideration while developing a CE process? What is the role of stakeholders not exclusively dedicated to serving youth experiencing homelessness (e.g., schools, justice, health, and behavioral health providers)?

Date Published: August 2016

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An inclusive and responsive coordinated entry (CE) process for all youth can only be achieved through widespread stakeholder participation in planning and implementing CE. To ensure that the CE process incorporates the needs of youth, the planning and implementation process needs to include:

  • Youth experiencing homelessness;
  • Youth homeless assistance providers including those funded by the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act;
  • Child welfare systems and their providers including independent living programs;
  • School district McKinney-Vento liaisons;
  • Representatives from the juvenile and adult justice systems;
  • Employment programs;
  • Human trafficking providers;
  • Law enforcement;
  • Health providers;
  • Out-of-school time programs; and
  • Early childhood providers for pregnant and parenting youth.

Early and ongoing participation by these organizations in communities that have successfully integrated youth experiencing homelessness into their CE processes is credited with building trust in CE for youth-serving providers and other key stakeholders, and with sharing critical knowledge among youth and non-youth stakeholders that has ensured the entire process is youth-appropriate. Continuums of Care (CoCs) should also consider taking inventory of local youth resources beyond traditional homelessness housing and services as there may be more youth resources available to the community than the CoC realizes, including family reunification services and youth homelessness prevention services.

Many stakeholders may not be solely focused on youth homelessness, but will still play an important role. Stakeholders such as child welfare agencies, school district McKinney-Vento liaisons, and juvenile justice programs should be key partners in the development of CE, and once implemented, their roles within the CE process will vary widely based on the program’s specific interactions with youth and the programs’ specific population focus. The key is to generate a mutual understanding between CoCs and community stakeholders early on regarding how youth access CE from non-homelessness dedicated programs and how these programs' resources are accessed by youth through the CE process. In general, programs and system partners will fall into three categories:

  • Programs that can connect youth to the CE process - Programs that ask basic questions about housing status and have a protocol for connecting youth to the CE process when a housing or homelessness service need is identified that cannot be provided by the provider or program. These programs may vary greatly in their capacity to connect youth. For example, a program may have limited capacity to add questions to their intake and use a single indicator or observation to trigger a phone call to the CE access point. Another program may have extensive capacity to identify youth experiencing homelessness and at-risk youth and so may ask a series of questions concerning housing status to increase their referral accuracy to the CE process, which is made electronically and seamlessly.
  • Programs to which the CE process connects youth - Programs that offer resources that are relevant for youth experiencing homelessness and for whom a protocol has been established to connect youth from CE to the intake process for those resources. Programs will vary in their capacity to make themselves available to the CE process. Some may have a simple protocol that allows for a coordinated connection from CE to their services, whether through an electronic connection or even a warm hand off made with the help of staff navigators. Another program with a lot of flexibility may be able to co-locate programming with CE operations ensuring youth can go through the referral and intake process for their services at the same location and time as they go through the CE process.
  • Programs that are fully integrated into the CE process - Programs that are fully integrated into the CE process where they either participate as an access point for all CE resources or their resources are accessed directly through CE referrals without an additional intake. Full integration for mainstream services will be rare as their expanded population focus and mission often makes full integration burdensome for both parties; although in some circumstances and in some communities it may still be appropriate.

Involving systems and programs that serve youth early in the development process of CE and in an ongoing manner is the best way to ensure that these partners are both identifying and referring youth from their programs to the CE process and that CE process is able to refer to their programs when appropriate.

Tags: CoC Program Requirements - Coordinated Entry ESG Program Requirements - Coordinated Entry