Scruffy Young Man

KYC’s Com­mu­ni­ty Liv­ing Teams Make a Big Impact

Brad was kicked out of his friend’s apart­ment when he missed his rent pay­ment for the third time. Since then, he’s been liv­ing on the street. He tried to get a new job months ago, but he couldn’t be hired with­out a valid pho­to ID. The stress of his liv­ing cir­cum­stances have been com­plete­ly over­whelm­ing. One night, a police offi­cer found him walk­ing aim­less­ly around a local park­ing lot, sob­bing and con­fused, with­out any shoes on his feet. Unable to calm him down, the offi­cer took him to the emer­gency room, where he was diag­nosed and treat­ed for a men­tal health con­cern. Brad received the emer­gency care that he need­ed at the hos­pi­tal, but what hap­pens next?

Although Brad’s sto­ry is a rep­re­sen­ta­tion, some of our clients find them­selves faced with sim­i­lar, high­ly com­plex sit­u­a­tions that are con­fus­ing to nav­i­gate. Ken­neth Young Center’s inten­sive out­reach teams work with excep­tion­al deter­mi­na­tion to help com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers through these kinds of challenges. 

In the recent months, KYC’s new Front Door team and Com­mu­ni­ty Sup­port Team (CST) worked col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly to pre­vent 12 peo­ple from con­tin­u­ing to live in home­less­ness, and anoth­er 20 peo­ple from being unnec­es­sar­i­ly placed in insti­tu­tion­al care like nurs­ing facil­i­ties. The Colbert/​Williams Tran­si­tion team helped an addi­tion­al 12 peo­ple move out of nurs­ing facil­i­ties who didn’t need to be there. KYC is thrilled to high­light this part of the incred­i­ble work the teams of our Com­mu­ni­ty Liv­ing Depart­ment do each day.

Young woman cropped portrait

The Front Door Diver­sion Pro­gram: Find­ing the Right Envi­ron­ment for Recovery

KYC’s Com­mu­ni­ty Liv­ing Depart­ment pro­vides, among many oth­er ser­vices, The Front Door Diver­sion Pro­gram. The goal of this Illi­nois Depart­ment of Human Ser­vices pro­gram is to pre­vent Med­ic­aid eli­gi­ble peo­ple who are expe­ri­enc­ing a men­tal health cri­sis from unnec­es­sar­i­ly being placed into long-term care or return­ing to home­less­ness. This pro­gram can help peo­ple like Brad get back on their feet.

When a per­son is being dis­charged from the hos­pi­tal after being treat­ed for a men­tal health con­cern, this is a crit­i­cal point in their care. As part of the dis­charge process, the per­son will be screened by hos­pi­tal staff to deter­mine if long-term nurs­ing care is the next step to take.

If the per­son is released from the hos­pi­tal and returns to home­less­ness, they will most like­ly have too lit­tle access to the care they need. In some cas­es, peo­ple are approved for long-term nurs­ing care as an alter­na­tive to home­less­ness. If the per­son is referred to a long-term care facil­i­ty, they will be liv­ing in a high­ly reg­u­lat­ed envi­ron­ment and are left with very lit­tle finan­cial resources or oppor­tu­ni­ties to try to move back out on their own.

The Front Door Pro­gram cre­ates a path­way for a third option. When peo­ple can safe­ly recov­er in sta­ble hous­ing in the com­mu­ni­ty, they can begin the process of recov­ery in a real­is­tic, sup­port­ive envi­ron­ment. All 12 of the peo­ple that KYC’s team mem­bers pre­vent­ed from return­ing to home­less­ness were referred through this process.

Clip board

Front Door in Action

Our team is con­nect­ed to eight local hos­pi­tals through­out sub­ur­ban Cook, Lake, and DuPage coun­ties for the Front Door Diver­sion Pro­gram. When our team receives a refer­ral fol­low­ing a hos­pi­tal screen­ing, there is no time to waste. Each referred per­son must be assessed at the hos­pi­tal with­in 24 hours, and they often have a dis­charge date already sched­uled as ear­ly as 12 – 72 hours from the time that they were referred. 

A new­ly referred client will need a place to stay the same night they leave the hos­pi­tal, so our team works to quick­ly con­nect them with the resources they need. Our staff locate a hotel for tem­po­rary hous­ing and help the client obtain their med­ica­tion, food, hygiene prod­ucts, and clean clothing.

Our team mem­bers are mas­ters of cre­ative prob­lem solv­ing. In the past year, our staff have expe­ri­enced (and solved!) unex­pect­ed sit­u­a­tions such as: 

  • Hotel check in dif­fi­cul­ties: In order to help a client check in to their first night’s stay at a hotel, our team had to first help them get a pho­to ID. Sev­en hours, two trips to the DMV, and one vis­it to a Notary lat­er, the client had an ID, but was still unable to check in because they did not meet the hotel’s age require­ments. Our staff had to act quick­ly to secure a place for the client to stay. 
  • Last-minute changes in plans: Despite coor­di­nat­ing with the hos­pi­tal for a client to be dis­charged on a Mon­day, our team learned on the pre­vi­ous Fri­day that the indi­vid­ual was being trans­ferred to a long-term care cen­ter. Our team got to the hos­pi­tal before that trans­fer took place and helped the client avoid inap­pro­pri­ate place­ment into long-term care.
  • Phar­ma­cy and insur­ance trou­bles: After being dis­charged from the hos­pi­tal, a client vis­it­ed a phar­ma­cy where they were told that their nec­es­sary med­ica­tions would cost $1300. Our staff found that the client’s insur­ance had been incor­rect­ly ter­mi­nat­ed, and nego­ti­at­ed a solu­tion to ensure the client received their medications.
  • Lack of basic needs items: Our staff arrived at a hos­pi­tal to find that a client was dis­charged with­out appro­pri­ate shoes or cloth­ing. Our team worked quick­ly to pro­vide the client with these basic necessities.

While ensur­ing that the clients’ basic phys­i­cal needs are met, our team mem­bers simul­ta­ne­ous­ly engage their clients in the ser­vices they need to sup­port their men­tal health. Depend­ing on the client’s needs, our staff pro­vide out­reach ser­vices 1 – 5 times per week to ensure the client is stay­ing on track to meet their goals. Our team also responds 24 hours a day to a cri­sis line that clients can call in emergencies. 

After their clients are con­nect­ed with the most imme­di­ate sup­ports that they need, our staff con­nect them with longer-term resources that sup­port recov­ery. Clients may be intro­duced to KYC’s psy­choso­cial reha­bil­i­ta­tion group (PSR), the Drop-in Cen­ter, and sub­stance use pro­gram­ming. They may learn about pro­grams offered through local park dis­tricts, munic­i­pal­i­ties, senior cen­ters, or reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions. Our team pro­vides their clients with the ser­vices that are per­son­al­ized to help them reach their goals. Final­ly, our team mem­bers help their clients search for and obtain a more per­ma­nent home.

Keys in hand

Impact Mak­ers

Each per­son served through the Front Door Pro­gram is unique, and faces indi­vid­ual obsta­cles to find­ing a per­ma­nent home. They may have prob­lem­at­ic cred­it, minor crim­i­nal his­to­ry, trans­porta­tion dif­fi­cul­ties, or they may lack employ­ment or oth­er income sources. From help­ing their clients with inter­view skills, to help­ing them search for apart­ments, to help­ing them move in to their new homes, our CST mem­bers are there to sup­port their clients along every step of the way. 

Of the 20 peo­ple divert­ed from long-term care facil­i­ties, nine were liv­ing on the streets or in aban­doned build­ings. Four were liv­ing in unsta­ble and unsafe hous­ing, unsure from day to day where they would be able to stay. Thanks to the work of our amaz­ing team mem­bers, these peo­ple each have a place to stay, and will hope­ful­ly soon have a per­ma­nent place to call home. They are con­nect­ed with the wrap­around ser­vices that they need to be sup­port­ed as a whole per­son, and they have a team ded­i­cat­ed to help­ing them reach their goals.

How You Can Help

Man in gray hoodie

Give. Our team is always in need of items they can share with their clients as they face dif­fi­cult tran­si­tions. Gift cards in small amounts to local restau­rants (like Sub­way or Burg­er King, etc) for a quick meal are immense­ly help­ful, espe­cial­ly when try­ing to nav­i­gate the numer­ous dif­fi­cul­ties on the day of hos­pi­tal dis­charge. In addi­tion, clean­ing sup­plies, hygiene prod­ucts, and oth­er items can help too. Your gifts can be giv­en to indi­vid­u­als who are tran­si­tion­ing from home­less­ness to liv­ing in sta­bil­i­ty. To learn more about how to donate these items, check out our Ama­zon Wish List or con­tact Jes­si­ca.

Join our team. Our Com­mu­ni­ty Liv­ing team is grow­ing, and we cur­rent­ly have job oppor­tu­ni­ties avail­able to become part of a team that makes a big impact. Check out all of our avail­able posi­tions here, or learn more about our Com­mu­ni­ty Liv­ing Hir­ing Fair on Feb­ru­ary 15th2020.


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—C.S. Lewis