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From Our Federal Partners: VA and Coordinated Entry Systems (CES) Memo

On October 17, 2017, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Management released a memo to the VA Network Directors, VA Network Homeless Coordinators, and VA Medical Center (VAMC) staff which issued guidance regarding the roles and responsibilities of the VA medical center homeless programs in each of the local Continuum of Care (CoC) and the CoC’s Coordinated Entry systems (CES). This guidance from the VA to the VA medical centers is meant to support community planning and CES efforts within CoCs by clearly outlining the expectations of VA medical center involvement. In many ways, this guidance codifies what has already been occurring in local communities. Where new partnerships are needed, it provides the opportunity for engagement. Within the guidance, VA recognizes that coordinated entry systems are a critical element in our collective and continued efforts to end Veteran homelessness and homelessness for all populations. Coordinated Entry ensures coordination of community-wide services for Veterans experiencing homelessness, system-wide awareness of the availability of housing and services, and easy access to and appropriate prioritization for these resources by Veterans who are in critical need.

The memo articulates that VA’s participation is essential to the success of this national effort and provides detailed guidance on the VA medical center’s required level of participation in several key components to a fully-developed CES: case conferencing, By-Name-Lists (BNL)/master lists, assessment tools, and data sharing. While the guidance emphasizes participation in these elements to the fullest extent possible, it also recognizes the real challenges that VA medical centers are presented with as a result of the frequent mismatches in the geographical catchment areas between CoCs and VA medical centers, as well as instances where larger VA medical centers are tasked with coordinating services with multiple CoCs. The memo addresses these challenges when outlining the specific requirements of each key component, recognizing that while full participation may not be feasible in each area of CES for these reasons, the goal is to be as fully participatory as possible. It is anticipated that each VA medical center will be reaching out to their partner CoC(s) about this guidance and the subsequent collaborative effort that will be required to meet the requirements.

View the VA Participation in Coordinated Entry Guidance Memo.

Additionally, the VA medical centers also received a copy of the Implementation Assessment Checklist. The checklist is a tool for VAMCs to indicate progress toward the implementation of the memo.

The VA would also like to take this opportunity to thank CoCs for their work in ending homelessness and for their partnerships with VA homeless programs.

For additional questions related to the VA memo, please email Adrienne at adrienne.nashmelendez@va.gov.

To access more Coordinated Entry resources, view the CoC Responsibilities and Duties toolkit.

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