Date Published: August 2016
RHY programs, whether they are funded federally or privately, are an integral part of many communities’ efforts to prevent and end homelessness. It is therefore vitally important for all RHY providers to be integrated into their community’s Continuum of Care (CoC), to be at the table to provide input, and to help ensure that the coordinated entry (CE) process is fully responsive to the needs of youth experiencing homelessness.
In addition to their experience working with youth experiencing homelessness in their respective programs, RHY providers bring with them a wealth of knowledge about the network of social, behavioral health, and other community services vital to ensuring youth experiencing homelessness are able to transition to stability and independence. Because of this specialized knowledge and experience, RHY providers should be involved in general needs assessment planning committees, in addition to the planning, development, and implementation of the CE process. RHY providers should fully participate in: 1) the decision-making process to identify access procedures and locations; 2) designing and informing youth-appropriate screening and assessment tools and related staff training; 3) the development of the prioritization process to ensure vulnerable youth have access to resources; and 4) the development of the referral process, particularly around matching youth needs and strengths to appropriate housing and services.
RHY providers contribute invaluable homelessness prevention and intervention resources to the community through the Basic Center, Transitional Living, Maternity Group Home, and Street Outreach Programs. RHY resources should be fully integrated in the implementation of the CE process by aligning their access, assessment, and prioritization processes with the policies and procedures developed by the full community of stakeholders through CE. Integrating RHY resources is critical to creating a single CE process for youth experiencing homelessness. Beyond the specific CE process, RHY providers can continue to help ensure that resources offered to youth are developmentally appropriate, promote positive youth development, incorporate trauma-informed care, and are culturally and linguistically competent. Federal partners are working together to release more detailed guidance later in 2016 on the important role of RHY providers in the CE process.