A priority for A Way Home Canada and the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness is to assess youth-serving organizations’ engagement and comfort levels with two core features of Reaching Home: Coordinated Access Systems (CAS) and Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS) or Homelessness Management Information System (HMIS) for data management. CASs are often used to connect people who are chronically homeless to local programs and services. However, when chronicity and acuity are the primary criteria used to determine eligibility for a program or service, young people in need can be easily overlooked. This is because the risk factors specific to youths’ experiences of homelessness are not the same as adults, and timely early intervention is necessary to prevent the trauma and victimization that can occur if youth become entrenched in homelessness.
For this report, we engaged the National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness and the Making the Shift Demonstration Projects to gain a broader understanding of the experiences of youth and youth-serving organizations within local CASs and under new federal guidelines for CASs.
This report will be particularly useful for organizations and staff interested in understanding the challenges faced by youth-serving organizations engaging with CASs:
- How to utilize a design-approach for working with youth
- The difference between youth and adult CASs
- What youth-focused CASs could look like