What Is A Coordinated Entry System?

Every Continuum of Care has been working on creating a comprehensive and effective coordinated entry system. So, what is a coordinated entry system?

The History
As part of the updated Continuum of Care 2.0 program in 2013, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development issued a new requirement for each continuum of care to implement a centralized, coordinated assessment system. 
 
Prior to the implementation of this rule, those experiencing homelessness often had to wade the murky waters of seeking services themselves — finding lists of housing opportunities, investigating the types of services available, and visiting each of these separate agencies, only to be turned away because of requirements or demands that they were unaware of. Coordinated Assessment Systems made access to services actually ACCESSIBLE, but there was still room for improvement in the implementation of these systems. 
 
The coordinated assessment system would simplify the process for obtaining assistance by allowing individuals and households experiencing homelessness to go any designated access point to complete one comprehensive, standardized assessment that would appropriately issue referrals for them for housing and supportive services across the CoC. 
 
In January 2017, HUD issued a notice which established new, additional requirements for Continuums of Care and their Coordinated Assessment Systems, now more commonly known as “Coordinated Entry Systems”, requiring every CoC to establish or update a CES in accordance with these new requirements by January 23, 2018. 
 
These additional requirements highlighted the need of continuums of care to focus on the coordination of entry, the standardization of assessments, as well as the accessibility, availability and safety of the system to those who are seeking housing and services in efforts to create a system that is client centered and places their needs first. The notice included 15 additional requirements for CES, but they focus on achieving three major goals:
 
Coordination — A Comprehensive, Standardized Assessment. 
 
Every agency and access point throughout the entire Continuum of Care, including street outreach, emergency, and homelessness prevention services, is mandated to implement a single standardized assessment approach that collects necessary information to establish an individual’s or household’s needs in regards housing and supportive services. The scoring of this assessment must accurately and appropriately prioritize the referral of clients to services. Is is not required for a list to be generated through this prioritization process, but if one is, it must match that used by the CoC’s Homeless Management Information System(HMIS). This process should be transparent and made public by the Continuum of Care. 
 
Accessibility — A System for All
 
The expansion of requirements for Coordinated Entry included new rules to ensure adherence to the Fair Housing Act and to prevent all forms of discrimination. The coordinated entry process must prohibit the elimination of referrals of persons to services based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, familial status, disability, actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. CoCs are required to take action to provide assistance to those with disabilities as well as those with Limited English Proficiency. All shelters, housing projects, and service agencies are also prohibited from denying service to anyone due to any perceived conceptions that would prevent persons from receiving or maintaining housing or services, like income or credit, substance abuse, criminal record, or history of domestic violence. 
 
Access Points — “No Wrong Door”
 
Access points are to be found throughout the entire CoC, and every access point should provide the same type of access — same access to assessments and same access to services. A person should not have to travel long distances or be bounced from location to location in order to seek assistance. Every access point should serve as an entry into the CoC’s system of care, and every point must be well-advertised and easy to find. 
 
Looking for a Comprehensive Solution for Continuum of Cares
 
Until now, many CoCs have chosen to implement Coordinated Entry Systems by establishing series of complicated community workflows that simply stack on top of their existing HMIS systems. These systems often fail to truly capture the intent of true coordination, instead consisting of agencies within the CoCs implementing their own processes and surveys and then each agency retrofitting their systems to meet the needs of CES. But what if a Coordinated Entry System wasn’t just pages of processes that include a tool for assessment? What if a CES is a tool that meets the all the mandates of coordinated entry?
 
Outreach Grid is a collaborative software platform that provides powerful, coordinated entry for homelessness management and is accessible by anyone, anywhere. The first of its kind and battle-tested in California and Texas, Outreach Grid is a coordinated entry system that easily adaptable to the needs of any Continuum of Care — collecting information from first contact to housing. With built-in features like customizable assessments, controlled data and information sharing, encounter and encampment mapping, and HMIS data compliance, we enable agencies to end homelessness together. Best of all, Outreach Grid removes all barriers for entry into the system for those who are most vulnerable. With Outreach Grid, any mobile devices within your Continuum of Care becomes an access point in one consolidated platform:

  • Outreach navigators and emergency shelters become mobile access points who can enter and use information in the field on their mobile phones and tablets
  • Private citizens and businesses can contribute to the network by reporting encampments and individuals to the Outreach Grid Network of service agencies who can help them
  • Individuals experiencing homelessness or about to experience homelessness can self-report their needs to the Network

Visit outreachgrid.com today to schedule a demo and see how Outreach Grid help end homelessness in your city!