New system will prioritize shelter for homeless families
Most vulnerable to be identified in assessment
— The Cecil County Interagency Council on Homelessness is in the early stages of implementing a new county-wide system that will ensure the most vulnerable homeless children and families receive shelter first.
During the agency meeting Thursday, Gwen Parrack, council chairwoman and director of special populations services at Cecil County Health Department, said the group is in the process of setting of a coordinated entry system. This federal directive from the Department of Housing and Urban Development ensures that all shelter providers go through the same process to admit families into housing and that the most vulnerable families are admitted first.
To determine vulnerability, an assessment will be conducted and that information will be entered into the Homeless Management Information System, a collection of data regarding the provision of housing and services to homeless individuals and families, as well as those at risk of homelessness. Criteria for the test has not yet been created, but criteria could include factors such as mental health and substance abuse, Parrack said.
The results of the vulnerability test will be used to create a list that Wayfarers’ House and Deep Roots at Clairvaux Farm, both shelters that help children and families, can examine to determine which family to help next.
This is not the first time the county has implemented a coordinated entry program in the county.
The agency has seen success with the county’s Commitment to End Veteran Homeless, a subcommittee of CCIACH, and coordinated entry, Parrack said. There is a list of homeless veterans, with the goal of placing them in housing as soon as possible. Coordinated intake is also used for those who are chronically homeless, she added.
The next phase in the process is to look into the criteria for a vulnerability test, Parrack said.
There is no set date for when it will be implemented, she added.
“I think it’s wonderful that the community in Cecil County is coming together to coordinate this for families that are homeless,” said Lori Goldsmith, administrator at Clairvaux, after the meeting.
Coordinated entry will enable Clairvaux to help families who are most vulnerable. Goldsmith said the process right now is a first-come, first-serve basis, when a family calls up looking for an opening.
“The coordinated part of this is the awareness that homeless families; there are more and more of them and they need shelter,” she said.
Clairvaux Farm in Earleville is one of the organizations in Cecil County that plans to participate in a new process that helps make sure vulnerable homeless children and families receive shelter first.