Social Well-Being

Child and youth integrated homelessness data report: Part 2

A child's hands holding onto rings in a jungle gym structure

Last week’s blog post featured the release of The Child & Youth Homelessness Integrated Data Report, which integrates data from multiple sources to describe child and youth homelessness and service utilization patterns in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The blog post 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 blog post is the second in a three part-series covering different aspects of the integrated data report. Part 2 of the blog series provides an in-depth look at the key findings from the report. Next week’s post will cover the “So, What” of the report, describing evidence based strategies to address child and youth homelessness and offering recommendations for next steps.

[Read the full report here.]

TOTAL NUMBER OF CHILDREN & YOUTH EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS AND/OR HOUSING INSTABILITY (2016 – 2017)

By linking data from HMIS and CMS, The Child & Youth Homelessness Integrated Data Report is able to provide a total number of children and youth experiencing housing instability and/or homelessness during the 2016 – 2017 academic year. The total is 6,558 children and youth; of that total, 2,936 children and youth accessed a homelessness services agency that enters data into HMIS; and 4,114 children and youth identified as eligible for McKinney-Vento services within CMS.

The report also provides some demographic characteristics of the population of children and youth experiencing housing instability and/or homelessness. Of the 2,936 children and youth in HMIS, 89% identified as Black or African American. Similarly, of the 4,114 children and youth in CMS, 82% identified as Black or African American.

MCKINNEY-VENTO SERVICES AMONG CHILDREN & YOUTH EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS AND/OR HOUSING INSTABILITY (2016 – 2017)

During the 2016 – 2017 academic year, the integrated data report indicates that were 583 CMS students who experienced sheltered homelessness in an emergency shelter or transitional housing facility. By law, all children and/or youth experiencing sheltered homelessness are eligible for McKinney-Vento services, such as transportation resources or expedited enrollment. Of the total CMS students in sheltered homeless locations, 59% (or 342 CMS students) were identified by CMS as eligible for McKinney-Vento services. This means that 41% (or 241 CMS students) were not connected with McKinney-Vento services even though they were eligible.

Seventy-eight percent of the CMS students not connected with McKinney-Vento services were residing in emergency shelter. This finding is similar to gap identified in the 2014 – 2015 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Family Homelessness Report. Following the release of previous report, a CMS social worker was placed at the Salvation Army Center of Hope; however, it is important to note that the staff change occurred in 2017. Therefore, any impact associated with the staffing change may not be reflected in the data within this report.

FOOD & NUTRITION, CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES & FOSTER CARE SERVICE UTILIZATION AMONG CHILDREN AND YOUTH EXPERIENCING HOUSING INSTABILITY AND/OR HOMELESSNESS

Food & Nutrition Services

During the 2016 – 2017 academic year, 73% (or 4,800) of children and youth experiencing housing instability and/or homelessness also accessed Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) from the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS). FNS provides grocery benefits to aid low-income families and children.

Analysis of cross-sector service utilization reveals that most (56% or 2,688 children and youth in families) who accessed FNS during their housing crisis were identified as eligible for McKinney-Vento Services;; 35% (1,680 children and youth in families) who accessed FNS during their housing crisis were connected to an HMIS agency. There were only 9% (432 children and youth in families) who overlapped across HMIS, CMS and FNS data sets, meaning they accessed FNS; were identified as McKinney-Vento eligible; and had accessed an HMIS agency.

Child Protective Services

During the 2016 – 2017 academic year, there were 1,143 children and youth experiencing housing instability and/or homelessness and who had at least one case involvement with Child Protective Services (CPS). CPS is a service managed through the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, which investigates allegations of abuse, neglect and other situations, which may impact a child’s safety.

The report provides data on cross system service utilization for children and youth accessing services reflected in data from HMIS, CMS and CPS during the 2016 – 2017 academic year. For example, most (61% or 697) children and youth who were experiencing a housing crisis and had a CPS case were identified as eligible for McKinney-Vento Services, while 30% (343 children and youth in families) were connected to an HMIS agency. There only 8% (91 children and youth in families) who overlapped across HMIS, CMS and CPS data sets, meaning that they had at least one CPS case; were identified as McKinney-Vento eligible; and had accessed an HMIS agency.

Foster Care Placement

During the 2016 – 2017 academic year, there were 58 children and youth experiencing housing instability and/or homelessness and who were in foster care. A child or youth may be placed into foster care if their household is unable to provide a safe environment, which can include but is not limited to homelessness and/or housing instability. Of this total, 64% (37 children) were younger than age 12; and 36% (21 youth) were between the ages of 13 and 24.

SO, WHAT

The Child & Youth Homelessness Report Integrated Data Report links multiple data sources to describe child and youth homelessness and service utilization in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. By linking HMIS and CMS data, the report is able to enumerate a total for children and youth experiencing housing instability and homelessness during the course of a year. It is important to note that this number reflects the total across 12 months.

By analyzing service utilization, the report also helps the community to identify areas for improved coordination. For example, 41% (or 241 CMS students) who stayed in an emergency shelter and/or transitional housing facility during the 2016 – 2017 academic year were not identified by CMS as eligible for McKinney-Vento services. This is an important gap to highlight because all students residing in emergency shelter and/or transitional housing facilities are eligible for McKinney-Vento services, which are designed to ensure equitable access to public education.

The report also underscores the importance of safety net services for families experiencing housing instability and/or homelessness. In fact, almost 75% of the all families with children and youth experiencing housing instability and/or homelessness also accessed Food and Nutrition Services. In addition to ensuring families can eat when there may be no or low income to do so, safety net services such as Food & Nutrition also help close the gap between the high cost of housing and low wages.

Next week’s blog post will focus on evidence-based strategies to address child and youth homelessness and the “So, What” from the new integrated data report.

Bridget Anderson is a Social Research Specialist at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. She works to provide data insights for community issues relating to homelessness, public health, and social capital. Courtney LaCaria coordinates posts on the Building Bridges Blog.

Courtney is the Housing & Homelessness Research Coordinator for Mecklenburg County Community Support Services. Courtney’s job is to connect data on housing instability, homelessness and affordable housing with stakeholders in the community so that they can use it to drive policy-making, funding allocation and programmatic change.