Last month, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sent a message to all State Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) Contacts and PATH Providers providing guidance on the PATH Annual Report and alerted PATH contacts to a recent update of the PATH Program HMIS Manual. The entire message is included in this listserv in an effort to make sure all communities receive this updated guidance:
December 22, 2016
Greetings State PATH Contacts (SPCs) and PATH Providers,
SAMHSA and the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are pleased to announce the release of updated guidance to further enhance efforts to integrate PATH into local Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS).
In November 2013, SAMHSA released the Technical Assistance Plan for PATH Program Participation in HMIS, which describes SAMHSA’s goals for PATH participation in HMIS. SAMHSA expects full PATH participation in HMIS by the end of each state/territory’s fiscal year (FY) 2016. Full participation is considered to mean entering all PATH client data directly into the HMIS designated by the local Continuum of Care (CoC), both for client care coordination and generating the PATH Annual Report.
In addition, SAMHSA expects PATH providers to participate in their local CoC to engage in program planning and implementation activities, discussions regarding effective client service coordination, and discussions to solve issues and challenges related to PATH data collection in HMIS.
The primary resource for PATH-specific guidance on HMIS is the PATH Program HMIS Manual, which was recently updated by HUD. All SPCs and PATH providers should review this resource because it contains information on key topics, including PATH project set-up in HMIS and PATH data collection definitions and expectations. During SAMHSA’s January and February HMIS Learning Community meetings, there will be a brief training on this new resource and the opportunity to ask any questions you may have on the topic.
HUD has also released HMIS Programming Specifications for the New PATH Annual Report. Vendors are required to have the new PATH Annual Report programmed into their HMIS software by April 1, 2017, to ensure PATH providers have sufficient time to generate their FY 2017 Annual Report and any FY 2017 progress reports that they are working to submit to their SPC. SAMHSA understands that this means PATH providers completing their FY 2017 progress reports may not have the data they need in time for the first two quarters of the year. SAMHSA asks that providers complete as much of those reports as they can when they are due and do not submit those reports unless they have all required data from HMIS (meaning that some will not submit progress reports until after April 1, 2017). More guidance on this will also be shared during the January HMIS Learning Community meetings.
SAMHSA will release more information on its HMIS Learning Communities in the coming days and looks forward to convening these again. The PATH HMIS Learning Communities are designed to assist states/territories in achieving these goals and for participants to share successes and challenges related to this transition. Periodic webinars are also offered to present information related to overcoming common challenges associated with PATH programs’ use of HMIS. SAMHSA expects SPCs and PATH providers to both fully participate in all PATH HMIS Learning Community meetings and webinars.
SAMHSA acknowledges that most PATH providers have been able to successfully use HMIS for data collection and reporting efforts but that there are still considerable challenges for many. SAMHSA appreciates all efforts that have been made and will continue to provide support for these efforts through its Homeless and Housing Resource Network (HHRN) team. If you are not familiar with your state’s point of contact (PoC) for HHRN, please review the HHRN contact list for PATH.
Thank you for your dedication to this important work and for your efforts to improve PATH data collection to ensure the continued success of the PATH program.
Caroline B. Fernandez, M.S.W.
Director, PATH Program
Homeless Programs Branch
Center for Mental Health Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services