News, Resources, & Happenings at TAC — April 2022

Two African American teen boys sit together on the ground, leaning against a rough concrete wall. Both wear hoodies; one has his hood up and a blanket over his knees.

Preventing Youth Homelessness in California: Strengthening the Role of Data and Youth Voice

TAC has officially launched the California Youth Technical Assistance Initiative, a three-year engagement with the California Interagency Council on Homelessness (Cal ICH) that will help California Homeless, Housing, Assistance, and Prevention (HHAP) grantees improve their systems, data, and projects serving youth who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. TAC Senior Associate Lauren Knott and Senior Consultant Gina Schaak are co-managers of the project team which includes Senior Associates Jordan Gulley, Ellen Fitzpatrick, and Bree Williams; Associate II Jenna Espinosa; Associate Tara Ortega — and works closely with several individual and organizational partners. Phase One kicked off in March, with technical assistance provided in eight communities on:

  • Improving the quality of data on the needs and experiences of youth who are homelessness
  • Improving outreach to youth and involving them in service provision
  • Designing programs according to emerging promising and best practices to serve youth-specific needs

In May, monthly “YAB Collab” workshops for all of California’s HHAP communities will commence, sharing information on how to start and operate Youth Action Boards. Our team’s work with communities will center youth experience, expertise, and decision-making power in system planning, project implementation, and system evaluation processes.

Lab Time to Eliminate Disparities: The California REAL Initiative Enters Phase Two

In another engagement with the California Interagency Council on Homelessness (Cal ICH), TAC’s Racial Equity Action Lab (REAL) initiative continues to move toward eliminating racial disparities in homelessness systems throughout California. TAC Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion LaMont Green, Senior Associate Nastacia’ Moore, and Senior Consultant Gina Schaak — together with strong TA leadership and coaching teams — have worked with over 30 communities in three Communities of Practice to help create SMARTIE (strategic, measurable, ambitious, realistic, time-bound, inclusive, and equitable) goals on racial equality. These goals are focused on analyzing data from local homeless systems, including Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) and coordinated entry, to identify disparities in service delivery and target crisis response more effectively; on using a racial equity analysis tool when making budgetary, programmatic, and policy decisions; on engaging individuals with lived expertise to help understand and address racial inequities; and on grounding and funding homeless services within local organizations that already serve racially marginalized communities. In early March, TAC and the team hosted a Community Celebration where each community presented its top SMARTIE goals!

In Phase 2, launching this month, communities will have the opportunity to participate in nine-month “labs” to receive intensive TA specific to their own goals and improvement plans:

  • Equity-Based Decision Making Toolkit Lab
  • Data Analysis and Research Lab
  • Lived Expertise Collaboration Center
  • BIPOC (Black, Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color) Led Organization Advancement Center

States Work to Step Up their Success in Linking People with SUDs to Care

In June 2020, the National Governors Association (NGA) launched the Strengthening Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Systems of Care Learning Collaborative, in order to further state efforts in developing and implementing evidence-based interventions that link individuals affected by SUD to care and treatment. NGA engaged TAC as a subcontracted partner to offer states specific subject matter expertise that would complement NGA expertise. State teams worked with NGA and TAC staff to refine their goals and create action plans through research; information- and data-gathering; cross-agency discussions; and coordination of resources. Self-identified outcome and project evaluation assessments were conducted regularly, and this information, along with data from regular assessments conducted by NGA and TAC staff, was used to develop a resource for policymakers in other states working on improving their own systems of care: State Efforts to Improve the Continuum of Care for Substance Use Disorder and Opioid Use Disorder — Lessons Learned from the National Governors Association Substance Use Disorder Learning Collaborative in Six States. TAC affiliate John O’Brien, TAC Senior Consultant Rebecca Boss, and former Senior Consultant Tyler Sadwith worked together with NGA Center for Best Practices partners to develop this publication.

TAC Staff in Action

Senior Associates Alison Korte and Rachel Post are leading a virtual learning community webinar series on “Supportive Housing Models that Work” for the SAMHSA Homeless & Housing Resource Center, including a recent session on “Housing-Focused Engagement and Supporting Staff” — tune in for the final webinar on 4/27!; TAC Associate II Eric Gammons joined panel presentations on “HMIS Governance 101” and “HMIS Project Management & Annual Calendar of Expectations” at the National Human Services Data Consortium spring conference (follow the link for presentation slide decks); Senior Associate Lauren Knott co-presented on “Get Connected: Strategies for Building Community Connections for Youth” at the Housing First Partners Conference (HFPC) this month; Senior Associate Rachel Post and Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion LaMont Green were also at HFPC, with a presentation on combining harm reduction, peer-delivered services, and on-demand SUD treatment with Housing First programming; Senior Associate Nastacia’ Moore and Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion LaMont Green recently addressed the Inland Empire chapter of the American Association for Public Administration on “Equity and Inclusion in the Public Sector”; and Director Lisa Sloane and Senior Associate Bree Williams prepared Effective Property Management Engagement Strategies: Addressing the Housing Needs of Individuals with Serious Mental Illness, SUDs, and Co-occurring Disorders, a new toolkit (available in English and Spanish) for SAMHSA’s Homeless & Housing Resource Center.

Staff Transitions

We are pleased to welcome Laura Conrad-Laberinto to the TAC team as a Senior Consultant with over 20 years’ state-level experience in Medicaid, behavioral health, and child welfare systems.

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