100 Day Youth Challenge
All the way back at the beginning of May 2019, Coordinated Access Networks (CANS) across the entire State of CT embarked on 100 Day Challenges to house and/or divert as many homeless and unstably housed youth and parenting youth families as possible. The 100 Day Challenges were opportunities to set ambitious statewide goals to catalyze system change. Through the challenges the YETIs engaged a broad selection of stakeholders that included non-profit agencies, homeless service providers, change stewards, case managers, navigators, and community and state-level leaders—all working in the same direction to quickly house youth in crises.
So what was able to be accomplished during these 100 Days? 397 youth and youth households across the state were either housed, or diverted during these 100 Days! There were times in the challenge where it did not seem like goals were going to be met…staff changes, vacations, differences in philosophy, inconsistent engagement, challenges in outreach and with transportation among others. But in the end everyone kept their focus on what the challenge was really about – providing stable housing as well as services and supports, to the youth and young adults of the community that need them. The Youth Action Hub and its members played a major role in driving these efforts, as well as the CT Coalition to End Homelessness (CCEH). CCEH provided guidance, training and technical assistance through its Youth Engagement Team Initiative (YETI) involvement, both locally and statewide. CCEH also provided financial assistance for housing and other eligible costs through the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) and guidance from the YHDP Coordinated Entry and Rapid-rehousing Learning Collaboratives.
So where do we go from here, and how do we sustain this momentum? The seven CAN Regions and their teams put forth items on their agendas to work on moving forward that also helped them attain their goals during the challenge. These items included: How can we continue to work with school systems and minors and partner agencies such as youth service bureaus to help with early identification, how can connections to employment and job training opportunities continue to be offered to youth at any level of engagement and what ways can transportation be addressed regionally and locally to help youth get and stay connected to services? Also, how can regions continue to quickly identify and serve youth in housing crises? Here’s to harnessing the momentum from the challenges statewide to help end youth homelessness in 2020!