EA-Emergency Financial Assistance
This program provides emergency financial assistance to ensure clients maintain access to essential daily needs. By providing coordination of allocated funds, emergency assistance is provided to clients to prevent both termination of primary utilities and eviction of families from their homes. Additionally, funds are coordinated to purchase prescription medications and to provide transportation assistance for medical appointments or for employment purposes. Occasionally, funds are utilized to make minor home repairs. Guiding clients through the assessment process to compare their current income to expenses is a tool used to begin the process of budgeting education.
Friends in the Journey
April 2018 marks the kick-off of our follow-up case management mentoring program which we have given the name "Friends in the Journey". At this point, we will provide follow-up case management with those individuals and families seeking assistance. This process will entail up to six (6) months of case management services to provide greater assistance with referral resources and personal support to better ensure a successful road to self-sufficiency and lessen dependence upon community financial support. Our new "Friends in the Journey" program is an expansion of our previous mentoring program (it was first designed to mentor those homeless individuals that had been recently housed) and will now serve clients unable to successfully conquer barriers keeping them from self-sufficiency which is the next step in ending chronic emergency assistance.
The first follow-up contact to clients, committed to working with us on conquering barriers, will be made 10 days after their initial assistance to check on the results of the referral as stated on their individual Client Action Plan and to provide other resources as needed. Subsequent follow-up contacts will be made at 14 day intervals to ensure each client remains focused on their attainable goal of self-sufficiency. Budget counseling, education, job search and readiness, housing, child care, medical, mental health, and addiction recovery, etc...are among the top referral resources that will be the focus of this initiative.
This program promotes the increased self-sufficiency of clients by: implementing accountability standards and procedures to establish service eligibility; utilizing assessment of client circumstances and referral to other services (such as mandatory budget counseling to address factors contributing to need). Evaluating, assessing and case management ensures that we can decrease the length of time the individuals and/or families are utilizing or over-utilizing community resources. Wrapping services around them helps create an environment where they can improve their self-sufficiency and remove barriers that have otherwise impeded their ability to move forward.
PATH Services provided by the PATH Outreach Coordinator continue to enable us to meet, interview, and assess the homeless individual or family in a non-threatening, less institutional environment. This outreach will begin within their comfort zone-possibly a park bench where they have been sleeping and calling it "home". The initial interview by PATH will be simply a friendly encounter where the client(s) may begin to form a trusting relationship and therefore be more open and honest about their homeless situation and the precursors that have played such an important role in their current life choices. The PATH Coordinator will be evaluating mental acuity and any other medical, mental, or emotional issues with which they may be suffering. Triaging the client and meeting with an appointed multidisciplinary team PATH Coordinator will then begin working on an individualized treatment plan as members of the housing team begin working on Housing First options. Local area treatment facilities, free clinics, DHHR, hospitals, and other community agencies (i.e. Literacy Volunteers, Legal Aid, SOAR providers) have all come to the multidisciplinary team table to provide services as needed. These collaborative efforts are the back bone to providing services for lifelong self-sufficiency.
The PATH Coordinator will also ask as a link between multidisciplinary team and homeless individuals and their families being released from a treatment facility, hospital, or incarceration (i.e. Chestnut Ridge Treatment Center, Valley Mental Health, NCRJ or Sharps Hospital. These efforts will ensure that clients do not fall through the "cracks" and therefore receive the follow-up treatment and housing options appropriate for their individuals needs. As clients are released from Mon Health and Ruby Hospitals, Chestnut Ridge, Sharps, Hospital or Valley Mental Health their case managers the facilities now contact Connecting Link as part of their discharge planning if the client is homeless. This process enables our Path Outreach worker the opportunity to evaluate the client prior to them being released so that arrangements nay be made to move them directly to an available bed within a local shelter or directly into housing, if appropriate housing is available thus keeping them off the streets, especially during recovery therefore avoiding as return visit to the ER. During discharge planning, after the initial assessment by the PATH Outreach worker, work begins on not only Housing First but also on referrals and resources to assist in maintaining housing and the welfare of the client as indicated by the outcomes of each individual VI-SPDAT (Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool).
During this past year, we have established a working relationship with the Discharge Planner at the North Central Regional Jail. Upon planning with a client that is self-certifying homeless and wanting to return to our service area, the discharge planner notifies our agency so that our PATH Outreach worker can meet with this individual immediately upon release, Normally a bus from the jail will transport the inmate to the center of town where they have indicated they wish to locate. At this point if at all possible, the PATH Outreach worker will meet the client as he gets off the bus and begin the process of evaluating and temporarily housing the individual most likely in one of the local homeless shelters until such time as appropriate permanent housing is determined. The PATH Outreach worker will then begin the process of resourcing and referring as indicated by the individuals SPDAT.
Teen Angel Program
Over the past four (4) years we have provided for an average of 400 teens each year at Christmas---and the number keeps growing. Each teen receives $50 worth of age appropriate items. Suggested appropriate donations for the program (both boys and girls) include: gloves, hats, scarves, socks, hygiene products, nail polish, basebal hats, candy, small hand held games, movie passes, fast food coupons, gift cards, etc...Monetary gifts to purchase items are accepted and appreciated.
Heat My Home
It only takes a Mason Jar full of Quarters to heat a home for a month. Come to our Christmas Surprise Bingo in November and take home a Mason Jar or fill one at your Bingo table. If you take one home, after it is full of quarters, bring it back into one of the Connecting Link locations and the money will be used to help families heat their homes during the winter.