Developing Targets and Performance Indicators

The above section provides you a means of developing the plan progress. You can create targets around funding using this work and proposed actual number of youth you can serve pending resources. You do have the option not to include this information and instead stick to a high-level visioning document that would call for this level of analysis in implementation. However, It will be a harder sell, as you will not be able to paint a picture of how to resolve the issue in a measureable way.

Targets and progress indicators draw on these analyses to propose targets for the number of youth housed, days spent in shelter, percent discharges into homelessness from systems, etc. If you don’t have a current sense of performance in these areas, you can instead use general indicator descriptions that you can populate with real data over time. Without setting some measurable indicators however, your plan will not trigger any evidence-based means of implementation tracking either. It is best to set some performance expectations from the start.

This is also another way of showing what you mean by ending youth homelessness – how do you know you’re making progress? Ensuring stakeholders have input on this issue will also be essential to buy-in for the plan. In fact, this is one of the essentials of collective impact (shared measurement).

Indicators should be evidenced-based and aligned with your vision, but also realistic from a data collection perspective. Give thought as to how these are collected and reported to the community moving forward. Stakeholders that provide data into this effort should have a say in what is being collected and how it’s interpreted for wider audiences, particularly when it impacts funding allocation.

Nevertheless, such targets and indicators should be included in your plan. Here are some examples of plan targets: note they are very specific and build on each other. It goes without saying that these are developed using the research and analysis you have undertaken, versus ‘being pulled out of thin air.’ In fact, you should be able to provide a description of the methods used and rationale for coming up with the targets in the first place.

Target examples:

  1. House 123 youth in shelters to bring their average length of stay in shelters from 20 to 12 days by 2019;
  2. House 15 youth sleeping rough who are not connected to shelters, eliminating youth street homelessness by 2018.

Meeting Targets 1 and 2 would eliminate shelter use and rough sleeping among youth in the community by 2019.

  1. Develop targeted prevention, diversion and rapid rehousing measures to stem the flow into homelessness for 500 vulnerable youth by 2020.

Here are some more examples of performance measures that indicate progress on youth homelessness is being made by an optimized homeless youth-serving system. Note that the COH is working to develop a national definition of ‘functional zero’ that will help you think through the key elements needed and measures you may want to include in developing plan targets.

Performance measures:

  • Total number of youth experiencing homelessness (rough sleeping/shelter) decreases.
  • Average length of stay in shelter/street for youth is less than seven days on average. This performance is maintained for a minimum of 12 months.
  • The incidence of youth exiting public systems (corrections, child protection, health, etc.) who become homeless is reduced and eventually eliminated.
  • Turnover rate and occupancy levels in current homeless system capacity allow access to appropriate housing and supports to youth experiencing homelessness and at imminent risk within 10 days of referral. This performance is maintained for a minimum of 12 months.
  • No more than five percent of youth who exit through intervention programs return to homelessness within 12 months.
  • Youth program and housing participants report high satisfaction using standard survey tool re:
    • Housing quality, security of tenure affordability and safety;
    • Case management services received;
    • Access to appropriate supports to address diverse needs within homeless system & mainstream public systems (addiction, trauma, mental and physical health issues, employment, education, etc.);
    • Process of referral and intake into programs & housing;
    • Discharge planning and transition supports;
    • Perception of quality of life, including sense of belonging, participation in community activities and connection with friends and family.
  • Supporting healthy transitions to adulthood and include increasing level of education, employment, life skill development and connections to natural supports.