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Surveys at Youth Housing Programs Help The Night Ministry Better Understand the Needs of Clients

171107-NightMinistry-STEPS-1060 Short term shelter, securing employment, and food are the top three pressing needs reported by residents of The Night Ministry's Youth Housing Programs.

Four times a year, The Night Ministry's Mission Fulfillment Department visits the organization's Youth Housing Programs to learn about the young people The Night Ministry serves and to find out how they feel their needs are being met. The results of the anonymous surveys conducted by Mission Fulfillment contribute to a data-driven culture of learning, a goal of the agency's current strategic plan, Serving in the Next Decade, which help determine how well The Night Ministry is fulfilling its mission and what improvements could be made to its programs.

Mission Fulfillment recently released results from the nearly 140 surveys conducted during a four-quarter period that begun in the 2018 fiscal year.

Here are some highlights: 

What Challenges Are Clients Looking for Help with?

Survey respondents were asked to list all of the reasons they sought to stay with The Night Ministry's Youth Housing Programs.

"The predominant need identified by clients across all programs has consistently been a need for short term shelter," said Gregory Gross, Director of Mission Fulfillment, "followed by finding a job."

"In addition, survey respondents were overwhelmingly likely to report coming to the program with multiple needs. More than a third told us there were six or more needs that they were seeking assistance with."

There were differences in the types of needs identified by clients, depending on the program they were staying with. Guests at The Crib, The Night Ministry's emergency overnight shelter, reported a much higher need for basic needs such as food, hygiene supplies, and clothes.

"In comparison, residents of the STEPS Transitional Living Program, which provides up to two years of housing, were significantly more likely to report long-term needs such as employment, continuing education, and long-term housing," Gross said.

Nearly three out of four respondents reported that their needs were being met by the programs they were staying in.

Where Would Clients Go If The Night Ministry Wasn't There?

Clients were asked about if they had a safe place to stay if they were not staying with The Night Ministry. Only 16% reported having a safe place to stay, while the remainder—84%—stated they either wouldn't have a safe place or they were unsure about where they would go.

"This underscores the housing instability The Night Ministry's youth clients face when entering our programs and the lack of adequate social support many of them experience," said Gross.

"Additionally, we know from conducting follow up focus groups, that even those who said they had a place to go, a family member or friend, will be unable to identify someone and so we know a portion of those are actually unsure," Gross said.

When asked where they would go if they were not with The Night Ministry, nearly a third reported they would be on the streets. 29% percent reported they would be doubled-up ("couch-surfing"), staying temporarily with family or friends.

"The lack of safe alternatives for clients to pursue and the high percentages of those who would be living on the streets or in unknown situations speaks to the potential impact The Night Ministry's Youth Housing Programs have on the lives of those they serve," said Gross.

How Does Case Management Help?

Case managers at The Night Ministry's Youth Housing Programs help clients identify and meet their immediate needs and pursue goals related to long-term stability.

"Overall, clients reported that case management is a helpful process for them," said Gross. "The most commonly mentioned goals they work on with their Case Managers are related to employment and education."

"Clients also reported working on 'soft-skills,' such as communication or stress management, while others received assistance getting connected to medical services, housing, and obtaining important documents such as birth certificates or state IDs," he said.

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