Developing a formal governance structure to manage the Coordinated Access process is critical for project success. Though the governance needed is different in each community, governance refers to oversight, the formal process for making decisions, in addition to policies and procedures for participation in the Coordinated Access System.
Access to the System.
There should be an established and agreed upon process and structure for intake. This is done by establishing a coordinated process and access points (centralized, decentralized or both). Whichever method is chosen it’s imperative that the outreach and access points can provide full coverage of the community both geographically and by way of ensuring access to supports for all levels of housing and support needs including diversion, prevention, and safety needs such as for those fleeing domestic violence.
Common Assessment & Prioritization.
In a CAS, communities establish mechanisms for determining which individuals will be prioritized for access to supports and housing. A healthy CAS is not based on “first come first served”. Instead, it should include a standardized intake process that includes an assessment tool that provides understanding and insight regarding the strengths and vulnerability of each person. This aids in the system being able to accommodate those with the highest level of need first.
In order to make effective referrals from your CAS it’s important to complete a thorough mapping of services that could be considered touch points for those experiencing any level of homelessness along with documented and approved policies help to match individuals to available and appropriate housing and supports. Vacancies are then filled based on the community’s established prioritization guidelines. The entire system is kept aware of the availability status of housing options and any new resources which keeps everyone on the same page. As with the access portion of the system dynamics, the more formal the linkages of all parties within the system are, the more accountable each party will be and those given charge of it will better be able to monitor CAS performance.