NWYS is deeply involved in improving the lives of all Whatcom and Skagit County young people and their families. In our efforts to positively impact the communities we work and live in, our partnerships include other not for profits agencies and foundations, governmental agencies, elected officials, faith communities and for profit companies. Below are a few of our recent collaborative efforts:
Youth Vulnerability Tool
NWYS has implemented a Triage Tool that assesses vulnerable transition-age youth age 18-24, which was developed by Dr. Eric Rice, in conjunction with the Corporation for Supportive Housing. The Rice Triage Tool is used by our case managers when meeting with new clients. The Rice Tool consists of six items, each of which helps assess the likelihood of chronic homelessness among transition-age youth. This tool suggests prioritizing youth who can check off multiple items as we move young adults from our waiting list to housing programs. The intent of this tool is to ensure young people who are most in need of housing resources are prioritized in our current system.
The six items in this Triage Tool are:
- I left my family home, group home, or foster home
- There was violence at home between family members
- I had differences in religious beliefs with parents/guardians/caregivers
- How old were you when you tried marijuana for the first time?
- Before your 18th birthday, did you spend any time in jail or detention?
- Have you ever been pregnant or got someone else pregnant?
County Homeless Coalitions
NWYS is a proud and active member in both the Whatcom County Homeless Coalition and the Skagit County Homeless Coalition. These Coalitions are leaders in our communities, spurring the annual Project Homeless Connects and the Point-In-Time-Counts. The Homeless Coalitions are charged with implementing the Whatcom County and Skagit County 10-year-plan-to-end-homelessness. To that end, both communities have turned towards a more effective approach to ending homelessness by using a Single Point of Entry system, which has been led and supported by the Homeless Coalitions. NWYS participates in Coalition committee work, including, but not limited to the Steering Committee, Communications Committee, Youth and Young Adult Planning Committee and the Employment Opportunity Committee. We are pleased to work alongside amazing agencies, community members and volunteers who make up these dynamic coalitions.
Ferndale School District and The Domestic Violence Commission
NWYS is working in collaboration with the Ferndale School District, the Bellingham-Whatcom County Commission Against Domestic Violence (BWCCADV), and Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services (DVSAS) on the STEP (Services, Training, Education and Policy) Project to improve student access to community support services and reduce rates of interpersonal violence. Ferndale was one of nine sites in the country awarded the STEP grant, focusing on building a holistic, supportive approach to domestic violence teen dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking at the school district level. NWYS is a key partner in this project for middle- and high-school students. Many youth are displaced from their homes due to domestic violence and sexual abuse — either through homelessness or running away to escape the violence. Through this project, NWYS can connect families in crisis to the PAD Program, for safe emergency housing for displaced youth aged 13-17, as well as case management to process the trauma and increase feelings of safety, self-reliance, community connection, and family stability.
Collaboration with Access Freedom
NWYS serves on the Whatcom County Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Task Force, which is facilitated by Access Freedom. The task force has implemented elements of the Statewide Model Protocol in responding to CSEC in Whatcom County. Other agencies/organizations that serve on the task force include: Bellingham Police Department, Ferndale Police, Whatcom County Sheriff’s Department, SANE Nurses at the hospital, Department of Social and Human services (DSHS) Children’s Administration, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services (DVSAS), Engedi House, Brigid Collins, and Juvenile Detention and Probation. The Whatcom County Task Force is participating in data collection efforts to provide much needed information to the Statewide Coordinating Committee organized by the Attorney General, in order to make policy and legislation recommendations to support the needs of youth in Washington State.
Historically, NWYS has been awarded an AmeriCorps VISTA position through the Opportunity Council. We have been able to utilize this program to help with staff and community trainings, the expansion of our Vocational Readiness programs and to grow the capacity of our donor relations and volunteer programs.