Organization Name: Kennebec Behavioral Health

Program Name: Homeless Youth Outreach Program

Program Contact: Tina Chapman, Development & Communications Director
Email:     Phone: (207) 873-2136

UWMM has funded this program for 6 years.

Amount Requested: $5000
Is this an increase from what your program received for the current funding cycle? 

Twenty-five word summary of this program’s purpose:

Youth Outreach finds and engages youth experiencing homelessness, provides services that address their individual needs and puts them on a path to safe, stable housing.

How your program is uniquely important to the community:

In the United States, it is estimated that 1 in 10 young adults ages 18-25 and at least 1 in 30 adolescents ages 13-17 will experience some form of homelessness over the course of a year. In Maine, it is estimated that there are more than 2,000 youth —ages 12 to 24, who are homeless on any given night. KBH’s Homeless Youth Outreach Program finds and engages youth who are experiencing homelessness in Kennebec and Somerset Counties. 

Having a warm, safe and stable place to sleep at night is one of the most basic of needs. Not knowing where you will be sleeping from one night to the next, or from where the next meal will come, or being able to launder your clothing, all creates a constant state of stress and chaos in the lives of young people who are experiencing homelessness.

Typically, youth who are served by Youth Outreach are 15-21 years of age. Youth who are experiencing homelessness often go unseen and uncounted. They may be sleeping in a tent or a vehicle, couch surfing, living in an unsafe and unstable home environment, staying temporarily at a youth shelter in another area of the state, or doubling up with others in a hotel. Many youth have a complicating mental health or substance abuse issue or both. Additionally, over the last few years, opiate use among either the youth themselves or by one or both of the parents/caregivers has become alarmingly prevalent. It is critical that Youth Outreach Services are available so that we can change the trajectory of these very vulnerable young people’s lives.   

KBH’s Case Managers walk through the woods, check under bridges and frequent areas throughout the community where homeless youth are known to be, such as libraries, youth programs, community hangouts and school. Referrals are received from guidance counselors, school officials, mental health providers, service providers including the homeless shelter and law enforcement. 

When the Case Manager contacts a young person who is homeless, he will first address the young person’s basic needs – food, water, clothing, and shelter. Then, the Case Manager seeks to formally engage the youth in services. Each youth is provided with tailored support and services until he or she is discharged from the program. Typically, this is about 6 months, however the Case Managers will work with the individual as long as is necessary to assure their needs are met. 

Program Updates

Since last report (or in past two years):

A major challenge during the last year for the Homeless Youth Outreach Program reflects challenges within the statewide system of homeless outreach services. Beginning in January 2017, Kennebec Behavioral Health was named as the State lead for adult homeless outreach services, PATH (Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness).  Although this was to be a multi-year grant award, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services put the program back out to bid in the summer of 2018. When the PATH RFP was reissued, the system began losing outreach staff across the state because the funding was so unstable. This significantly affected the youth outreach program as KBH and its subcontractors combine the management of (and often staffing) of youth outreach services with adult outreach services. KBH reapplied for the PATH grant – in fact was the only applicant, and was not awarded the grant. KBH was however asked to continue to do the work via multiple contract extensions. Meanwhile KBH and its subcontractors across the state became increasingly frustrated with DHHS. More outreach staff left their agencies or were subsumed within other programs. The RFP was reissued with a deadline of December 27th and it had separated the statewide services into three regional contracts. KBH was awarded the contract for Region 2 which includes Kennebec and Somerset Counties beginning February 1, 2019.  We are now staffing back up to be able to provide the service again.

Expected in the coming year:

With the PATH contracts in place for Adult Outreach (KBH will be working closely with Crisis & Counseling and Tri-County Mental Health Services as they are KBH’s partners together serving Region 2 which in addition to Kennebec and Somerset Counties includes Androscoggin, Oxford, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo Counties) and once staffing is back to “normal” in the Outreach Program, we anticipate being able to serve an average of 50 youth annually. We would also like to re-energize the Youth Engagement Project which was gathering a lot of momentum this time last year. The Youth Engagement Project’s goals are to enhance Youth Outreach by providing additional support to youth once they were stably housed to help them sustain their housing. The program also worked toward building advocacy and leadership skills for young people who have experienced homelessness so they can inform practice, policy and decision making around youth homelessness. 

Outcome your program most contributes to:
Health: All individuals in Mid-Maine are in safe and healthy environments with access to health supports and services.

How program contributes:
Provides a direct service in behavioral and/or physical health areas, Increases access/reduces barriers to direct services, Increases capacity/resources for direct services, Advocates for behavioral and/or physical health, Collaborates with other programs/services in behavioral and/or physical health

Define your year: July 1 – June 30

How much did we do? 50 (Total number served)

How well did we do it?

Performance measure: Percent of clients who received all available/requested services
Most recent year’s data: 100%
Previous year’s data: 96%

What was the difference made?

Performance measure: Percent of clients whose basic needs are met
Most recent year’s data: 92%
Previous year’s data: 95%

Action Plan

Objectives for current year:

The goal of Youth Outreach is twofold – 1) for youth who are experiencing homelessness to become stably housed and 2) to increase the youth’s access to mainstream resources – such as MaineCare, Social Security, general assistance, food stamps, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), employment services and supports, educational needs, behavioral health resources, primary health care, dental and vision care. Ideally, every youth with whom the program works will be discharged from the program with both stable housing and increased access to mainstream resources. The path that is taken to get there however is different for every individual.  

One key indicator for success is the time it takes from initial referral to contact with the youth. This population is highly transient and vulnerable. It is critical that a connection with the youth is made as soon as possible after referral or the opportunity to connect and begin to establish rapport is gone. The program strives for every youth to be contacted within 72 hours of referral.  After the initial connection is made, the next goal is to formally engage the youth into service. Once this happens, case managers can provide in-depth services and supports. The program’s goal is that 85% of initial contacts will result in the youth accepting services. 

Once the youth accepts services, successes are several points along a continuum. It may be finding a safe place to sleep for a month while family reunification efforts are happening, or working with the school homeless liaison to work out transportation arrangements so the youth can attend school. Or it may be the youth obtaining his driver’s license. Having access to mainstream resources also helps to stabilize their housing situation. For example, a youth may be staying with an extended family member, if she is able to receive benefits such as SNAP (Maine Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or have a part-time paying job, she can help offset financial costs by contributing to household expenses.

The program’s goal is to have at least 95% of youth exit outreach services with stable housing. Case managers will work with youth as long as it takes to help them achieve this goal. The program also has a goal that 100% of youth exit outreach services with an increase in mainstream services. Finally, the program strives to assure that 100% of youth who are surveyed at 90 days express satisfaction with case management services.

Objectives and results from last year:Success Stories

Often times, successes with the homeless youth population come in small steps.  A success may be having the young person agree to have a conversation with a family member or support person; finding the youth a safe place for one night; the youth going to a job interview by himself or the youth obtaining identification to be able to access other benefits. Each and every positive step along the continuum for that individual is a success. Youth who are experiencing homelessness are incredibly resilient, and we consider the youth with whom we work to be one of the fundamental strengths of the program. 

Alex is a 19-year-old transgendered woman who has faced numerous challenges in her young life, including homelessness, family conflict and the risk of dropping out of school before connecting with the outreach program. “I was basically abandoned my family,” Alex shared. “I ended up in a shelter for homeless youth. I had moved around a lot before that and didn’t have anybody I could rely on.”

The staff with the outreach program helped connect Alex with her birth mother, who had been out of her life for a long time, and helped her seek emancipation while also connecting her with transitional housing programs and doctors. Alex was able to find more stability in being emancipated since she now had the choice to stay with someone long term. “Getting emancipation helped me know that the judge saw that I had the responsibility to take care of myself and make good decisions.”  With this new help, graduating school also became less of a dream and more likely. The outreach program helped Alex change schools and in June, she graduated.

Today, Alex is employed and has her own apartment where she feels comfortable. She now has a primary care physician whom she sees regularly after being connected with through the program. “I’m planning to go to college later this year. It’s been tough to work and get ready for that, but I really want to do it. I also just want to keep working. I like being able to take care of myself,” said Alex.

Alex’s story allows us to see that the connections we make with individuals can often lead to other connections that can change the life of someone experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. In cultivating these connections, Alex, and others who share elements of Alex’s story, may be empowered to take steps toward achieving their goals and reaching dreams.  “If it wasn’t for the Outreach program, I don’t think I’d be where I am now.”

Previous Year Actual Income and Expenditures

Government Funding UWMM Funding Other UWs Funding Fees/Dues Funding Other Sources Funding Total Income
0 5000 5000 29750 43000 82750

Total Actual Expenditures: $82602

Current Year Budgeted Income and Expenditures

Government Funding UWMM Funding Other UWs Funding Fees/Dues Funding Other Sources Funding Total Income
0 5000 5000 37087 20000 67087

Total Budgeted Expenditures: $92935

Anything remarkable about your program’s budget:

Although Homeless Youth Outreach receives some MaineCare reimbursement for services (shown above as “fees/dues”), the majority of services provided are offered to the youth prior to their receiving MaineCare benefits and therefore are non-billable. KBH has been very appreciative to receive support from UWMM for services provided to youth experiencing homelessness in the northern Kennebec and Somerset County areas.  Additionally, KBH receives $5000 annually from United Way of Kennebec Valley to serve homeless youth in the southern Kennebec County area.  The FY 2020 budget is a draft and final adjustments are currently being done to address the projected deficit. During the previous year, KBH had received a couple large grants for the program and we will continue to look for additional funds to close the gap for FY 2020. 

What else you’d like reviewers to know:

We are deeply grateful for the on-going support of United Way of Mid-Maine for the Homeless Youth Outreach Program. It enables KBH to provide a critical service for youth who are experiencing homelessness in Somerset and Kennebec counties. With UWMM’s support, we are helping to ensure that the young people we serve move from homelessness to safety, security and self-sufficiency which is absolutely life-changing for them.


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