While it will be necessary to secure additional resources to support many of the plan’s objectives, there is much that can be accomplished in the shorter term by improving, leveraging and re-focusing current efforts that relate to homeless service provision. During the planning process, participants identified a number of areas that could immediately be started in support of the plan’s goals. For example, there currently exist two separate Homeless Outreach efforts in the County. The first, Boulder County Cares, is managed by the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless and the other, Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement (HOPE), serves the city of Longmont. Despite the presence of these two effective outreach efforts in the same County, they are not based on the same implementation model, nor do they use common intake or reporting forms that would assist with the integration and analysis of client information. In order to develop a countywide outreach response, as is discussed in the plan, it will be important to create common standards and practices that can help to align these two separate efforts.
Standardizing the provision of case management services also provides an opportunity for improved service coordination. The County has invested significant resources into the development of a common case manager training, standard assessment tools, a data system to support and document activities, and the development of protocols to guide the conduct of workers. Case management services are often at the heart of homeless intervention efforts as many homeless individuals and families require support in accessing and navigating needed services. Current case management work represents a clear opportunity for organizing homeless service delivery, but will require an investment of time and energy to put the standards of practice in place with government and non-profit services providers.
Issues of information sharing also occur at higher levels, in which larger systems are not in full communication with each other regarding how homeless needs are or are not being met. Both individual and aggregate data sharing can be facilitated through the use of common data systems and the development of data sharing agreements between parties. The use of the Homeless Management Information System, for example, will greatly aid in the management and analysis of data across the county. Many of the areas discussed above are already underway and will serve as early accomplishments in the plan’s execution.
A related area which has a significant implication for the efficacy of service provision relates to the sharing of information about homeless individuals across the service system. There is often a reluctance to share identifying information about homeless individuals and families between service providers as the practices can violate client confidentially. This, however, creates a barrier to the provision of comprehensive services as organizations serving the same individuals are unable to communicate and jointly plan. Moreover, case management efforts are sub-optimal since case managers are unable to access needed information across all service partners.
Increasing the Capacity to Meet Short and Long Term Housing Needs
Expanding Access to Mental Health, Substance Abuse and other Supportive Services
Keeping the Community Engaged
Ensuring Successful Implementation