How did the SPDAT Academy come to be?
As Arizona continues to establish and implement best practices that support Housing First principles, the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness is committed to the statewide training of our state’s homeless service providers and professionals. In our first year of offering off-conference training opportunities, we are proud to have provided over 76 hours of education and training to over 1,100 homeless service professionals in 2015 with significant and critical training in known best practices. AZCEH is honored to have partnered with ASU’s Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy, as well as utilize the generous participation of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Arizona Department of Health Services – Division of Behavioral Health Services, and Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care.
In order to continue our commitment towards building statewide training, AZCEH and its partners are investing in the training and education to build trainer/training capacity through the SPDAT Academy, which is a one-day intensive train-the-trainer course. This course will focus on the practical application of Arizona’s adopted statewide Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (SPDAT) for coordinated assessment for single adults, families (F-SPDAT), and youth (Y-SPDAT), and how each student can train others to properly and effectively administer the SPDAT in their local communities throughout Arizona’s three Continua of Care – Maricopa County, Pima County, and Balance of State.
Building on the practical foundations of education, training, and work experience, students of the SPDAT Academy will ideally be case managers, housing directors, or supervisors with working knowledge of and experience with using the VI-SPDAT and SPDAT to assist with service connection and housing stability, especially those supported by and utilizing SPDAT scores to assist with housing-based case management core concepts and techniques.
So, why should YOU apply?
The information and data being collected through the SPDAT is helping drive funding decisions at all levels throughout Arizona – city, county, regional, and statewide. The significance of this data and housing-based case management & supportive housing techniques is critical to not only the successful end to homelessness for our clients, but also to the successful funding and support of the right tools, services, and programs. As AZCEH works to expand training opportunities that support these efforts, we are in need of local community leaders who understand, support, and encourage collective impact.
SPDAT Academy applicants will be critical to the success of local communities in the implementation and further adoption of Housing First principles because you will be assisting in the proper training and support of the frontline assessment tool that is helping to prioritize service connection and supports that end homelessness. If you are interested in leading the policies, procedures, and tools that are shaping Arizona’s homeless service response system, join the conversation and lead the charge by applying to be a SPDAT Academy graduate trainer with the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness.
At the completion of the SPDAT Academy, and upon being SPDAT Trainer-certified, Academy graduates will be required to conduct two (2) trainings per year as a contracted SPDAT Trainer with AZCEH, as well as participate in quarterly meetings regarding coordinated assessment at the local and statewide level to ensure inter-rater reliability. Through the SPDAT Academy, it is the goal of AZCEH to work collectively to support the development of all our service providers statewide; the staff and board of AZCEH is committed to the investment in creating statewide training opportunities ranging from monthly SPDAT trainings, to Housing-Based Case Management, motivational interviewing, trauma-informed care, permanent supportive housing, assertive engagement, mental health first aid, and other relevant opportunities that will support the entire provider community.
HISTORY: Why the VI-SPDAT/SPDAT?
In 2010, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) put forth a plan to reflect a national priority, Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. The focus of this plan was on utilizing best practices, such as Housing First, to help prevent and quickly end periods of homelessness for individuals struggling with housing stability. Also highlighted within the plan as a means to increasing access to stable and affordable housing are assessments and targeting mechanisms that prioritize based on acuity and overall assistance needed to transition out of one’s own homelessness.
“Assessment and targeting mechanisms need to be used to distinguish between those who can resolve their homeless situation on their own or with mainstream supports, those who need targeted short-term assistance, and those who require long-term housing assistance. Factors include being extremely low income, paying more than 50 percent of income on rent, and precipitating events like domestic or sexual violence and illness. Available resources should also be targeted to the most vulnerable populations, including children and their families, unaccompanied youth, people with disabling conditions, and frail elders.” (Page 38, Increase Access to Stable and Affordable Housing: Objective 3, USICH, Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, 2010)
As a part of coordinated assessment in Arizona, which is helping policy makers and funders know how, where, and for whom to invest in various housing programs, the assessment and targeting mechanisms that have been adopted and are being used are the VI-SPDAT and the SPDAT; Vulnerability Index and Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool, created and maintained by OrgCode Consulting. In line with this federal strategic objective, and at the direction of Arizona’s three Continua of Care – Maricopa County managed by the Maricopa Association of Governments, Pima County managed by the Tucson Pima Collaboration to End Homelessness, and the Balance of State managed by the Arizona Department of Housing – the SPDAT is an evidence-informed approach to assessing an individual’s or family’s acuity, which refers to the severity of a presenting issue, and, for the purposes of the VI-SPDAT/SPDAT, is expressed as a number with higher numbers indicating more complex, co-occurring disorders which impact the individual’s or family’s housing stability. (For more about the difference between higher acuity and chronic homelessness, please read OrgCode’s blog post here.)
Help AZCEH and its partners continue progressing towards an end to homelessness by serving as a leader in your local community by helping us with the successful and effective implementation of this critical assessment tool.