Child and youth integrated homelessness data report: Part 3

Social Well-Being
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
Courtney LaCaria

Last week’s blog post provided an in-depth look at the key findings from The Child & Youth Homelessness Integrated Data Report, which was released on July 9. The new report integrates data from multiple sources to describe child and youth homelessness and service utilization patterns in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The first blog post in the series covering different aspects of the integrated data report provided context about the the report, including how integrated data can help communities to understand and address complex issues like housing and homelessness.

The five-part integrated data report explores gaps and connections across multiple homeless assistance services that impact children and youth in the community. Data from 2016 to 2017 is used from the following sources: Homeless Management Information System (HMIS); Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS); and Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS). The report was completed by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute; and is part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Instability & Homelessness Report Series, which is funded by Mecklenburg County Community Support Services.

This week’s post discusses the “So, What” of the report, describing evidence based strategies to address child and youth homelessness and offering recommendations for next steps.

EVIDENCE-BASED STRATEGIES TO ADDRESS CHILD & YOUTH HOMELESSNESS & HOUSING INSTABILITY

Part 4 of The Child & Youth Homelessness Data Report outlines five evidence-based strategies that can help address child and youth homelessness and housing instability. Each strategy section includes the definition, why it is important and examples. The strategies are listed below:

  • Interagency Collaboration
  • Two-Generational Approach
  • Permanent Housing Subsidies
  • Trauma-Informed Care
  • Supportive Services for LGBTQ Youth

To learn more about the strategies, click here to go to Part 4 of the Report.

CONNECTING THE DOTS

Part 5 of The Child & Youth Homelessness Data Report synthesizes data from the report and provides analysis on what this information can mean for Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The following are key takeaways from this synthesis:

  • Linking data enables the community to get one step closer to a total number of children and youth experiencing housing instability as well as homelessness. Without linked data, existing sources are limited by definitions of homelessness and/or time period for data collection; therefore, these totals only provide one piece of the overall picture. The total number of children and youth experiencing housing instability and/or homelessness during the 2016 – 2017 academic year is 6,588 students.
  • Linking data allows communities to see patterns (and gaps) in service utilization across difference service sectors that have an impact on or are impacted by the housing and homelessness sector. For example, by integrating CMS and HMIS data, The Child & Youth Homelessness Data Report reveals a service gap for students experiencing housing instability and/or homelessness. 41% (or 241 CMS students) staying in emergency shelters or transitional housing in the 2016 – 2017 academic year were not connected to McKinney-Vento services although they were eligible to receive them.
  • Linking data underscores the important role of safety net services for households experiencing housing instability and/or homelessness. For example, by integrating CMS, HMIS and DSS data, The Child & Youth Homelessness Integrated Data Report shows that 73% (or 4,800 children and youth) receiving services from an agency entering data in HMIS or who were identified as eligible for McKinney-Vento services in CMS also accessed food and nutrition services from Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services.

SO, WHAT

The Child & Youth Homelessness Integrated Data Report links multiple data sources to describe child and youth homelessness and service utilization in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Communities can use integrated data to understand complex problems like child and youth homelessness and housing instability as well as inform comprehensive, cross-sector solutions.

Research indicates that there are immediate and long-term negative impacts for children and youth who experience housing instability and homelessness. These include family separation, poor physical and mental health, lower social-emotional and academic well-being. These early impacts can also continue into adulthood, negatively affecting mental and emotional health, employability and housing instability.

Just as linking data helps communities understand a complex problem, communities can (and should) link solutions across sectors to address it. Linking solutions help communities to leverage and align resources more effectively. As a next step, Charlotte-Mecklenburg can take the information from this report to map cross-sector service utilization among families experiencing housing instability and homelessness. This process can further identify and inform efforts to close other service gaps; remove duplication; align funding; and ultimately improve long-term housing and educational outcomes for children and youth.

To access individual sections of the report or to read the full report, click here.