Coordinated Entry – A New Focus On Our Homeless Youth in Orange County

September 11 2020

StandUp for Kids - Orange County

Prioritization is a big factor when it comes to placing the homeless population into shelters. The Coordinated Entry System (CES) is a network that allows for communities to help individuals and their families fix their housing crises. It is essentially a list of people that are experiencing homelessness filtered and prioritized into specific community standards. The CES is regulated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Orange County coordinates through CES at a county level between available housing and pressing needs. Need is then defined by many factors; The goal is to funnel the support services in Orange County to help homeless individuals and families with the most need. To determine need there is a form called the Vulnerability Index - Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT) that gives each individual or family a specific score based on needs. All of the need is then logged into the county’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). This is where all providers track touchpoints with individuals and families. This helps share data across organizations to show the history of the person or family so that the most informed decisions can be made for future care.

StandUp for Kids is excited to announce a new initiative for CES that focuses on its target demographic. The ages StandUp for Kids works with are in the age bracket of 12-24 who can also be referred to as Transitional Aged Youth (TAY). The youth represented at StandUp for Kids almost always fall into the “Individual” homeless category in the previous CES system. This past scoring system in general scores TAY youth lower than the chronically homeless on the need rankings and thus TAY youth have had a hard time finding housing through CES. Matching typically works in periodic intervals in which the providers for the people who need housing come together and have match meetings. The homeless are then ranked in terms of need and a “best fit” is determined. Once a match happens in these meetings then housing is found and a homeless person’s housing is paid for for a period of time based on the funding available. The funding also varies depending on the specific city or other criteria that are discussed in the match meetings. This way only people or families that qualify for the specific housing available are selected.

Through the tireless efforts of Director of Operations Carlia Oldfather, County of Orange CES Coordinator Rebecca Ricketts, and many others at StandUp for Kids the system has been revamped and upgraded to support the TAY youth by creating a new category specifically for them. This will now allow providers and organizations who specifically support this age group to find TAY need in Orange County in a more direct and effective manner.

The new matching process was first implemented on June 16, 2020, and was specifically created based on StandUp for Kids advocacy to the CES leadership in Orange County. StandUp for Kids has received grant monies to house seven youth in Anaheim, nine youth in Irvine and ten youth in Garden Grove. These grants were made possible by the tireless effort of made by the StandUp for Kids grant writing team including Executive Director Justine Palmore and Advisory Board members Stephanie Schneider and Emily Fuentes.

The inaugural match meeting on June 16th discussed that StandUp for Kids had seven available beds for TAY youth in Anaheim. Take note that the beds available are open to anyone in the County who are in the HMIS and CES systems. So really any TAY youth in Anaheim from any service providers could be housed through the StandUp for Kids housing grant. The grant that was focused on in this meeting was specific to Anaheim so only TAY youth in Anaheim were discussed in this meeting. In the near future the Irvine and Garden Grove funding will be made available at these match meetings. Moving forward StandUp for Kids plans to obtain funding for many more cities and the county as a whole. Great things happen when good people come together to help others.

StandUp for Kids fights for the homeless and at-risk youth in Orange County and we couldn’t do it without the diverse group of donors, volunteers, staff and advocates. If you have energy and want to support this great cause please email orangecounty@standupforkids.org and we will find a role for you.

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