Coordinated-entry planning takes time, and allocating ample time helps ensure a successful launch. The following checklist provides a starting point for this essential initial step to implementing coordinated entry.
Scan current county environment. Identify and determine the following:
- Population demographics
- Size of geographic area
- Ease of access to transportation and technology
- Capacity of social service network and available community resources
- Social service access process
- Trust level and relationship depth among social service providers as well as between providers and funders (private and government)
- Data collection and practices in use
- Leadership for change, i.e., engagement of the faith and business communities in ending homelessness
- Federal and state funding requirements for homeless service systems
- Budget realities
Ask key initial questions
- What obstacles must be overcome to build cooperation from stakeholders?
- Are other system changes needed, at least informally, in addition to coordinated entry to meet expectations and HUD outcomes?
- Which gaps in services, infrastructure, and other resources are reconcilable? Which ones are intractable?
- What population(s) will the system serve? All or just families? Homeless and at risk, or just homeless? How will the current environment affect the breadth and depth of the coordinated entry system at implementation? When could the system include all populations if choosing to serve just one population initially?
- What realities about the population(s) to be served, the geographic area, service providers, and budgets must be taken into consideration to determine which coordinated entry model will work best?
Convene planning committee or advisory group
- Consider forming a core committee or department to start planning; move the process toward implementation and drive other systems change.
- Assemble a larger group to build consensus around comprehensive systems change and to create a communications plan (see Planning Resources for suggested committee members).
Create strategy to build political will and buy-in from social service providers and faith and business communities
Establish a shared mission, goal, and expected outcomes between all partners
- What problem(s) can be addressed by using a coordinated entry system?
Identify target population(s) the system will serve initially (ultimately all populations should be served through coordinated entry)
- All populations
- Families only
- Youth/young adults only
- Single and/or coupled adults only
- Domestic violence (DV)-households experiencing an immediate crisis
- Those at risk of homelessness, eviction pending
- Those at risk of homelessness, no eviction pending
- Two or more populations
Secure regional data to assess
- Demand for housing and related services
- Housing and shelter units and support services; gaps in the provider network
- Immigrant and refugee population; non-English primary languages spoken
Determine how model will be managed
- One entity to fund and implement coordinated entry,
- One entity to fund and another to implement the system
Agree on resources to coordinate based on target population(s), mission, goals, and outcomes
- Housing (e.g., supportive, market rate, affordable, permanent, and transitional)
- Services (medical/mental health, job training, education, etc.)
- Prevention services (rent and case management assistance)
Determine forms that will be needed to facilitate coordinated entry system
- Screening tool to establish eligibility and triage for services
- Primary assessment to determine where household is referred
- Comprehensive assessment to be used by partner agencies to develop household action plan
- Client forms: Informed consent—release of information (ROI)—to share client data between providers and client grievance form
- Memorandum of Understanding/Agreement (MOU/A) for partner agencies
Review HMIS or other database capabilities
- Is data system able to track all data collected by the intake and assessment forms?
- Will housing inventory and/or case management services be tracked in real time through the system or will a parallel database system connect with it?
- What potential partner agencies need access to the database for shared data?
- Can data be shared between agencies? Are there state/local privacy laws that will conflict with sharing client data between agency partners?
Review relevant funder requirements and contracting
- What funding requirements need to be changed to support coordinated entry? What requirements cannot be changed that affect the target population(s) and associated services?
- How does the implementation of coordinated entry affect the funding structure for the housing continuum, i.e., transitional, shelter, and supportive housing programs? What about prevention and case-management funding?
- Has performance-based contracting been part of past contracting? Will it be applied to contracting for coordinated entry? Does the contract hold agencies accountable to performance expectations and compliance with policies and procedures?
Determine operating costs for planning, implementation, and sustainability
Identify funding sources to be secured
Choose approach for coordinated entry system roll out
- Phased approach
- Pilot system
- “Soft” launch period before public roll out to address any issues
Plan for change management
Create a communications plan to address the following:
- Primary stakeholders: funders, local government, and service providers as well as greater community. Craft and convey message on why it is in their best interests to participate in and support coordinated entry.
- Misconceptions of providers and community about what to expect from coordinated entry; common misconception is assuming coordinated entry will increase housing stock
- How other points of contact (schools, hospitals/clinics, discharge systems, etc) connect to the system
Now, answer the following questions:
- Has the planning committee been consistent in applying its core mission, goals and expected outcomes to determine the population(s) to be served and the services provided?
- Does the communication plan include meeting face-to-face with organizations directly involved with the system change, e.g., nonprofit direct service providers, funders, government service providers, 2-1-1 (i.e. community information/crisis line service)?
- Is the database collection system ready to accommodate tracking data about households served and tracking housing/case management inventory in real time? Do the intake and assessment tools match the fields in the database?
- Have gaps in the system been considered when determining the goals and outcomes for the system?
- Is there room in the budget for unexpected costs? Does available funding match what is needed to fully support the planning and implementation of the system?
- Has emergency-services funding been aligned to meet the changes to the system and support services?
- Has “homelessness” been clearly defined for all partners?
- Have providers agreed on common intake and assessment tools?
- Are data sharing and scope-of-services agreements in place and ready for agency partners to sign?
- Is there a clear authority identified to partners that will be responsible for addressing compliance and systems issues and that will provide leadership for ongoing systems change?
- Have primary policies and procedures been discussed, and are they ready to be written?
- Has the evaluation process been determined? Who is the evaluator, and have the evaluation tool(s) been designed? How will evaluation results drive decision making to adjust coordinated entry and other systems change?