Today’s guest post is written by Iain DeJong, who is blogging from the National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness.
Kicking off the Family and Youth Conference was a pre-conference session on coordinated entry. Led by Kim Walker, Capacity Building Associate with the Alliance, the room of approximately 50 people was engaged in a lively presentation examining the key areas of success in approaching coordinated entry for a homeless service system.
The concept of coordinated entry has been an area where the Alliance has been investing more time as of late. This is not only because it is a good idea, but because communities are being required to think in terms of systems, not a collection of projects. It has also been top of mind for a number of communities across the nation, communities that are grappling with how best to meet consumer needs while leveraging the unique talents of service providers.
What are some of the necessary ingredients to make the coordinated approach successful?
- An open HMIS that allows for better communication between providers
- Data sharing agreements
- Buy-in by service providers
- Strong emphasis on diversion
- Programs that deliver what they say they deliver
- Accountability and communication across providers
- Common assessment tool used in the community
- Focus on getting the right person to the right program at the right time
- No “side doors” to service access (an individual or family going directly to a service provider rather than through the coordinated access)
While further evaluation is necessary to refine coordinated entry approaches, early evidence from several communities that have been engaged with this type of work demonstrates effectiveness compared to uncoordinated access.
It has been my experience (such as my recent work in Detroit) where some providers have seen the concept of coordinated entry as a challenge. It does propose a change in the way that programs work within the broader service system. And it can require designing a service system that is focused on the consumer of services rather than demands by funders, which requires brave and focused discussion. But coordinated entry is not a loss of autonomy for the service provider. Rather, it is an opportunity for agencies to complement each others’ strengths; each agency can play their unique part in ending homelessness. It reminds me that “some of us will always be smarter than one of us.”
Ultimately it is the consumer of services that is the central focus of coordinated entry. Coordinated entry improves their access to the programs that will be most beneficial to ending their homelessness quickly. Coordinated entry isn’t only more efficient, it is a more just way of delivering services.
Iain De Jong is the President & CEO of OrgCode Consulting, Inc. He has been working with many communities to help them improve their housing programs in advance of HEARTH. He is a frequent and popular speaker at Alliance Conferences. You can see him at the Conference in February in Los Angeles. Iain is also the chief blogger, tweeter and FaceBook persona for OrgCode. Take a look at www.orgcode.com or @orgcode orwww.facebook.com/orgcode