Implementation Checklist

Published: December 19, 2012

NOTE: This toolkit was published by Building Changes in 2013 to help counties meet a 2014 state mandate that all counties have a coordinated entry system for clients entering the homeless system. It has not been updated since then and does not necessarily reflect current or best practice.


The following implementation checklist and timeline is a general guide based on best practices studied by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH):

Identify organization(s) to host coordinated entry

  • Which organization(s) have the space, staff capacity, and availability to host the intake process, if any?
  • Are multiple organizations needed or just one?
  • Can changes be made to assist the organization to take on multiple responsibilities?
  • Are the organization’s and system’s missions in sync?
  • Regardless of agency-host design (multiple agencies or lead agency), identify entity responsible for enforcing contractual performance, compliance expectations, and providing leadership on systems change. The lead fiscal agency (generally the county) should fill this role.

Identify additional staffing and resource needs

  • Create and staff an office/department through the lead fiscal agency to manage coordinated entry and to lead efforts in comprehensive systems change that includes rapid re-housing, prevention, tailored services, and linkages to economic opportunity.
  • Identify staff numbers needed for coordinated entry points to meet anticipated demand for services.
  • Training needs for current and new staff, e.g. using data systems, understanding privacy and fair housing laws
  • Technological needs, including computers, data management programs, access to information on community resources, etc.
  • Determine translation and interpretation needs at access, assessment and referral points, and for community outreach.

Create procedure for specific referral process

  • What constitutes a referral? Soft handoff or set appointment with a specific person?
  • How do referrals get made?
  • When must an organization accept a referral? When can referrals be denied, and if so, what happens?
  • How many referrals can a client refuse?
  • How will households be referred to prevention or rapid re-housing services and diverted from shelter?

Create policies for clients and partner agencies

  • Engage partner agencies in establishing policies and procedures.
  • Will client data be shared between partner agencies? How will that process happen?
  • How will clients register a grievance with the system or a partner agency?
  • How will client confidentiality and rights be communicated?
  • Identify specific entity that will enforce system policies and procedures (generally the lead fiscal agent).
  • How will partner agencies be held accountable to follow policies and procedures of the coordinated entry system?

Increase resources

  • Obtain resources—either through community collaborations (e.g., providers agree to “share” case management staff with the coordinated entry points) or by hiring additional staff at service points.

Identify data and HMIS needs

  • Make sure current HMIS can collect data and report outcomes relevant to coordinated entry.
  • Build capacity to track inventory (e.g. beds, units, and support services), waitlist, client/provider matches, and provider guidelines in real time.
  • Develop intake and assessment tools in tandem with database to ensure complete data collection.
  • Double check state laws that may prohibit verbal and/or virtual consent; confirm that clients can legally give consent verbally or electronically to allow their household information shared between providers.

Train people on data and HMIS procedures

  • Staff should know when to start entering data, which data to enter, and how to share data with referral organizations.

Adapt contract language to ensure participation from multiple partners

  • Entice providers to participate in coordinated entry and assessment through community incentives, including tying receipt of funds to participation.
  • Consider performance-based contracting.
  • Craft Memorandums of Understanding/Agreements (MOU/MOAs) to strengthen collaboration and leverage resources.

Create plan for how coordinated entry system will be “switched on”

  • Establish firm dates and times, as well as contingency plans in case anything should go wrong.
  • Consider a “soft” start to test system before full engagement; this allows for corrections and adjustments while there are few clients and providers who can be affected.

Finalize assessment tool(s)

  • Make sure intake staff and referral agencies are familiar with the assessment tools and referral process before new coordinated entry process goes into effect.
  • Cross-reference screening and assessment tools again with database to confirm all fields match.
  • Enter a number of test intakes/assessments to check for any programming glitches.

Identify process for evaluating coordinated entry

  • Develop an evaluation schedule: Identify how the system and associated services will be evaluated and who will perform the evaluation (e.g., lead fiscal agency, lead implementing agency, outside consultant); have evaluation tools designed.
  • Identify coordinated entry goals and expected outcomes; set evaluation expectations on that understanding and focus on the purpose of coordinated entry as the basis to evaluate system.

Identify process for making adjustments to coordinated entry

  • Establish a primary-stakeholders committee to oversee coordinated entry and lead comprehensive systems-change process.
  • The committee will address noncompliance, fair housing concerns, grievances, and other issues affecting coordinated entry; committee also determines key outcomes to measure and how evaluation results drive decision making.

Create the right communications plan for the market

  • Have at least two communications plans: One plan directed to the primary- stakeholders group and another plan for the community (e.g., mainstream systems, government officials, consumers, and the general public).
  • Educate these groups on outcome and evaluation results and continued systems change, and offer opportunities to provide feedback.
  • Consider publishing a newsletter to serve as a communications channel for updates and meeting announcements for all interested parties.

Next: Coordinated Entry Models in Washington State

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