Coordinated Community Responses to Ending Youth Homelessness: A Learning Collaborative

Megan Blondin
Young many looking into the city

The Coordinated Entry Learning Collaborative (CELC)

Communities across the country are designing coordinated responses to end youth homelessness using a collective impact approach.  Since June 2015, MANY has convened a broad spectrum of partners including service providers, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), and the Melville Charitable Trust to form the Coordinated Entry Learning Community (CELC). The CELC works to identify and share best practices in real time while cultivating a strong evidence-base to refine and improve coordinated entry efforts.

What We Know

  1. Deeply coordinated community responses – integrated identification, assessment, service provision, and data – is a new approach for most communities and particularly for this population. As a result, questions are more prevalent than answers as a majority of communities are in a design or information gathering stage.
  2. There is little evidence and even less information related to effective coordinated efforts tailored for this population that is accessible to communities as they navigate the development of their local coordinated entry systems. Broad understanding of existing evidence, as well as promising and failed practices of other communities, is necessary to quickly advance the field.

What We're Doing About It

In response to these findings, the CELC has created a three-tiered strategy to strengthen coordinated community responses nationally. Our three core approaches are:

  1. Discovery & Innovation – We are currently working closely with communities in 9 states that are piloting coordinated entry and shared assessment efforts. The CELC is helping these communities to discover shared and local challenges related to implementation, unearth emerging promising practices, identify opportunities for strategic innovation, and in real time, develop or refine coordinated responses that are developmentally tailored for youth.
  1. Evaluation– In partnership with Eric Rice of the University of Southern California, we are figuring out how coordinated entry data can be collected across communities to support program evaluation and inform national policy and practices. CELC communities are leading this effort by strengthening data collection at the local level and cultivating meaningful bases of evidence that drive continuous quality improvement.
  2. Education – Learnings from the CELC are being synthesized and translated into actionable insights and resources for stakeholders (providers, advocates, funders). This knowledge is and will continue to be widely distributed in an effort to strengthen coordinated efforts specific to youth and young adults in every community nationwide.

Interested in learning more about the CELC? Contact Cynthia Shields, MANY’s System Improvement & Learning Lead, at


This webinar provides an overview of Coordinated Entry and is a great place to start. This snapshot provides an overview of CELC communities and identifies the current big questions/pressure points in each community.

Assessment Tools

The Next Step Tool

All nine communities are using or plan to use the TAY VI-SPDAT, also referred to as the Next Step Tool (NST). The Next Step Tool for Homeless Youth (NST) integrates the TAY Triage Tool, developed  through research by Eric Rice, PhD, Associate Professor at University of Southern California, with the VI-SPDAT.  The Next Step Tool follows the same domain and component structure as the VI-SPDAT, which has considerable overlap with the Family VI-SPDAT as well. The scoring structure is also the same. This means that in any one community, the tools used with single adults, families and unaccompanied youth and young adults all “speak the same language.” (


Five CELC communities utilize additional questions in their assessments to identify opportunities for prevention of or diversion from homelessness. The tools used by these communities range from focused conversation to standalone assessment tools and ask questions related to eligibility, youth choice in housing types/location, and culturally specific questions. This snapshot provides an overview of diversion/prevention tools used in 3 CELC communities. Click on the links to view the actual tools used in Twin Cities and King County.

Twin Cities

King County