Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Coordinated Access in Dallas

One of the most exciting programs MDHA is working on is Coordinated Access. What is it all about?


Research shows what solutions will prevent and end homelessness: diversion services (that help persons address their needs, while remaining housed), rapid rehousing and permanent supportive housing. Research further indicates that the availability of these solutions alone is not enough; communities need systems to coordinate delivery. This is why the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) mandates that each community have a Coordinated Access system.


In an uncoordinated environment, every service provider, "Will this person be successful in our program?" Assessment is diverse as service providers are, and persons with less severe needs/at less severe risk are often served first. Those with the greatest needs/at most risk, are turned away, and may fall through the cracks.

In Coordinated Access, the system asks, “What solutions best match the needs of this person?" Assessment is uniform, and person-centered data is collected. Coordinated Access scores, ranks and prioritizes persons for service, based on their levels of need/risk. It matches each person with the solutions that are the best fit for that person’s needs, and electronically refers them to service providers that deliver those solutions. It follows up to ensure that those solutions are delivered, and that persons with the greatest needs/at most risk, are served first.

How It Works in Dallas

Persons in need of assistance approach any system service provider. An Intake professional interviews the person using the Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT), which is built into the system. The system itself scores (the higher the score the greater the need/risk), ranks and matches the person with real-time available and appropriate resources, that can deliver the most appropriate solutions for that person. The intake professional, in consultation with the person, electronically refers him/her to service providers, who deliver those solutions. All collected data, scoring, matching and referrals are available to service providers on the system. Coordinated Access staff follows up to ensure that those solutions are delivered, and that those with the highest scores are served first, whenever possible.

Coordinated Access staff offers ongoing support and training, and monitors compliance and report generation. They pay close attention to patterns of need arising across the system, as well as provider–specific patterns. These create feedback loops for learning and improvement. Coordinated Access serves service providers in the homelessness arena, and will help the community meet HUD targets to end veteran, chronic and family homelessness in 2015, 2016, and 2020. The Dallas area CoC and MDHA envision a day, when many more service providers will be part of Coordinated Access, functioning as one, in the homelessness arena and beyond, delivering solutions that match each person’s needs.

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