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SNAPS and the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) Encourage CoCs to Work with their Local Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) Grantees to Help Them Begin to Use HMIS

As stated in the October 14, 2014 SNAPS In Focus: Youth Homelessness message from Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs, Ann Oliva, HUD recognizes that youth have unique developmental needs and our approach to youth homelessness has to do a better job taking these into account. This is true for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), but is also true for communities and for local providers. Both HUD and HHS recognize the need for better data on homeless youth in order to make informed decisions on what works to end youth homelessness.

One of the best ways HUD, HHS, Department of Education, and the other federal partners can work to end youth homelessness is to promote high quality, cross-sector data gathering. This will help federal agencies make informed policy decisions, as well as help each community determine the extent of youth homelessness and how best to assist youth. This strategy also aligns with the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) plan. 

To create better data on youth homelessness, HHS and HUD worked together to release unified elements in the 2014 HMIS Data Standards issued earlier this year. HHS' Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) program grantees will be able to use HMIS as the primary source of data entry for reporting back to the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB).

FYSB recently sent a letter to their RHY grantees outlining this partnership and their efforts to foster greater coordination among organizations serving homeless youth. As part of this effort, FYSB is requiring all RHY grantees to begin using their local CoC's HMIS and suggesting that they become active in their local CoC. HUD encourages CoCs to reach out to youth programs in your community and to welcome the RHY grantees into your CoC, if you are not already doing this.

HUD recognizes communities will have questions about this collaboration and what it means for their CoC. HUD suggests you visit the RHY program's website to learn more about the FYSB RHY Act and Resources. HUD and its national TA providers are working with FYSB staff to finalize a RHY-HMIS Program Manual that will provide detailed instructions on RHY project set up and additional data collection guidance for the RHY programs. This will be out within the next few weeks. HUD also encourages communities with questions about this new collaboration to submit their questions through the Ask a Question (AAQ) Portal on the HUD Exchange. On Step 2 of the question submission process, select "HMIS" from the "My question is related to" drop down list. 

HUD and HHS also recognize that RHY grantees have requirements around client confidentiality and data sharing specific to the youth they serve. These issues will be addressed further in the HMIS Privacy and Security Notice, which HUD will release, and communities will have an opportunity to comment on, in 2015. HUD and HHS are also working together with communities who have successfully navigated these issues to develop examples of best practices and hope to release those in early 2015. For now, communities and CoCs are encouraged to work with RHY grantees to be sure they have a seat at the table and to help them understand HUD’s requirements. Communities that need assistance with this should request technical assistance via the HUD Exchange.

RHY grantees who are not sure who the CoC contact is for their community, please visit the About Grantees section of the HUD Exchange.

Additional resources on homeless youth:

Visit the HUD Exchange at https://www.hudexchange.info
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