Homeless Missourians Information System (HMIS) Privacy and Security Notice

Covenant House Missouri
Homeless Missourians Information System (HMIS)
Privacy and Security Notice

A written copy of this Policy is available to all who request it.

It is also available on this agency’s web site.

I. PURPOSE:

This notice describes the privacy policy of this agency.  The policy may be amended at any time.  We may use or disclose your information to provide you with services, and to comply with legal and other obligations.  We assume that, by requesting services from our agency, you agree to allow us to collect information and to use or disclose it as described in this notice and as otherwise required by law.

The Homeless Missourians Information System (HMIS) was developed to meet a data collection requirement made by the United States Congress and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Congress passed this requirement in order to get a more accurate count of individuals who are homeless and to identify the need for and use of different services by those individuals and families.  We are collecting statistical information on those who use our services and report this information to a central data collection system.

In addition, many agencies in this area use HMIS to keep computerized case records.  This information may be provided to other HMIS participating agencies.  The information you may agree to allow us to collect and share includes: basic identifying demographic data, such as name, address, phone number and birth date; the nature of your situation and the services and referrals you receive from this agency.  This information is known as your Protected Personal Information or PPI.  All agencies using the HMIS share their data with other participating agencies, with the exception of Blind Service Providers.  These blind agencies serve specific protected client populations, such as domestic abuse, sexual abuse, HIV/AIDS, alcohol and/or substance abuse, and mental health, and do not share client information.

GENERALLY, all personal information we maintain is covered by this policy.  Generally, your personal information will only be used by this agency and other agencies to which you are referred for services.

Information shared with other HMIS agencies helps us to better serve our clients, to coordinate client services, and to better understand the number of individuals who need services from more than one agency.  This may help us to meet your needs and the needs of others in our community by allowing us to develop new and more efficient programs.  Sharing information can also help us to make referrals more easily and may reduce the amount of paperwork.

Maintaining the privacy and safety of those using our services is very important to us.  Information gathered about you is personal and private.  We collect information only when appropriate to provide services, manage our organization, or as required by law.

II. CONFIDENTIALITY RIGHTS:

This agency has a confidential policy that has been approved by its Board of Directors.  This policy follows all HUD confidentiality regulations that are applicable to this agency, including those covering programs that receive HUD funding for homeless services.  Separate rules apply for HIPPA privacy and security regulations regarding medical records.

This agency will use and disclose personal information from HMIS only in the following circumstances:

  1. To provide or coordinate services to an individual.
  2. For functions related to payment or reimbursement for services.
  3. To carry out administrative functions including, but not limited to legal, audit, personnel, planning, oversight or management functions.
  4. Databases used for research, where all identifying information has been removed.
  5. Contractual research where privacy conditions are met.
  6. Where a disclosure is required by law and disclosure complies with and is limited to the requirements of the law.  Instances where this might occur are during a medical emergency, to report a crime against staff of the agency or a crime on agency premises, or to avert a serious threat to health or safety, including a person’s attempt to harm himself or herself.
  7. To comply with government reporting obligations.
  8. In connection with a court order, warrant, subpoena or other court proceeding where disclosure is required.

III. YOUR INFORMATION RIGHTS:

As a client receiving services at this agency, you have the following rights:

  1. Access to your record.  You have the right to review your HMIS record.  At your request, we will assist in viewing the record within five working days.
  2. Correction of your record.  You have the right to request to have your record corrected so that information is up-to-date and accurate to ensure fairness in its use.
  3. Refusal.   Our ability to assist you depends on having certain personal identifying information.  If you choose not to share the information we request, we reserve the right to decline to provide you with services as doing so could jeopardize our status as a service provider.  
  4. Agency’s Right to Refuse Inspection of an Individual Record.  Our agency may deny you the right to inspect or copy your personal information for the following reasons:
    1. information is compiled in reasonable anticipation of litigation or comparable proceedings;
    2. information about another individual other than the agency staff would be disclosed;
    3. information was obtained under a promise of confidentiality other than a promise from this provider and disclosure would reveal the source of the information; or
    4. information, the disclosure of which would be reasonably likely to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.
  5. Harassment.  The agency reserves the right to reject repeated or harassing requests for access or correction. However, if the agency denies your request for access or correction, you will be provided written documentation regarding your request and the reason for denial. A copy of that documentation will also be included in your client record.
  6. Grievance.  You have the right to be heard if you feel that your confidentiality rights have been violated, if you have been denied access to your personal records, or if you have been put at personal risk, or harmed.  Our agency has established a formal grievance process for you to use in such a circumstance.   To file a complaint or grievance you should contact our Residential Manager, Brittany Graham, (314) 450-7665.

 

IV. HOW YOUR INFORMATION WILL BE KEPT SECURE:

Protecting the safety and privacy of individuals receiving services and the confidentiality of their records is of paramount importance to us.  Through training, policies, procedures and software, we have taken the following steps to make sure your information is kept safe and secure:

  1. The computer program we use has the highest degree of security protection available.
  2. Only trained and authorized individuals will enter or view your personal information.  
  3. Your name and other identifying information will not be contained in HMIS reports that are issued to local, state or national agencies.
  4. Employees receive training in privacy protection and agree to follow strict confidentiality standards before using the system.
  5. The server/database/software only allows individuals access to the information.  Only those who should see certain information will be allowed to see that information.
  6. The server/database will communicate using 128-bit encryption-an Internet technology intended to keep information private while it is transported back and forth across the Internet.  Furthermore, identifying data stored on the server is also encrypted or coded so that it cannot be recognized.
  7. The server/database exists behind a firewall-a device meant to keep hackers/crackers/viruses/etc. away from the server.
  8. The main database will be kept physically secure, meaning only authorized personnel will have access to the server/database.
  9. System Administrators employed by the HMIS and the agency support the operation of the database.  Administration of the database is governed by agreements that limit the use of personal information to providing administrative support and generating reports using aggregated information. These agreements further insure the confidentiality of your personal information.

V.  BENEFITS OF HMIS AND AGENCY INFORMATION SHARING:

Information you provide us can play an important role in our ability and the ability of other agencies to continue to provide the services that you and others in the community are requesting.

Allowing us to share your name results in a more accurate count of individuals and the services they use.  Obtaining an accurate count is important because it can help us and other agencies:

  1. Better demonstrate the need for services and the specific types of assistance needed in our area.
  2. Obtain more money and other resources to provide services.
  3. Plan and deliver quality services to you and your family.
  4. Assist the agency to improve its work with families and individuals who are homeless.
  5. Keep required statistics for state and federal funders, such as HUD.

 

VI. COMPLIANCE WITH OTHER LAWS

This agency complies with all other federal, state and local laws regarding privacy rights.  Consult with an attorney if you have questions regarding these rights.

VII. PRIVACY NOTICE AMENDMENTS:

The policies covered under this Privacy Notice may be amended over time and those amendments may affect information obtained by the agency before the date of the change.  All amendments to the Privacy Notice must be consistent with the requirements of the Federal Standards that protect the privacy of consumers and guide HMIS implementation and operation.  

VIII.  Web Site

We maintain a copy of the Privacy Notice on our web site at:  www.covenanthousemo.org

 

HMIS606_002
Approved 06/03/2011

One Day to Make a Difference #GiveSTLDay 2017

One Day to Make a Difference
May 11, 2017
#GIVESTLDAY

Give STL Day is a 24-hour, online giving event organized by the St. Louis Community Foundation. The goal of this single-day event is to grow philanthropy in the St. Louis metropolitan area by inspiring the community to contribute as many charitable dollars as possible in just 24 hours.

Since 1998, the mission of Covenant House Missouri is to serve suffering youth of the street, and to protect and safeguard all youth…with absolute respect and unconditional love. 


In fiscal year 2016, Covenant House Missouri services supported 5,286 youth in the greater St. Louis area. 86% of youth received tutoring services and improved their grades. 79% of youth who entered our Crisis program were discharged to safe and stable housing. 91% of youth in our Transitional Living Program saved an average of $1,080 upon discharge.


No matter the amount, your investment goes a long way…
 
$25 provides several meals to youth in crisis care
$100 gives a young person who is homeless a warm bed for a night
 $250 allows a youth the opportunity to engage in structured
developmental activities
 $1,000 supports 10 youth to enhance their employment skills by participating in our 7-day employment skills class

#GiveSTLDay will feature fun events throughout the day, including donor prizes and opportunities for organizations to earn matching funds, enabling your gift to have even more impact. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for real-time updates and to help us spread the word about the event!

THE CRUCIAL PIECES
TO INDEPENDENCE 

Covenant House Missouri openly accepts youth 16-21 years old. Our programs combine four crucial pieces to independence: mental health, residential, education and career development, and community outreach services. Through an individualized, holistic approach, we empower youth to design their paths to independence. Our vision is to lead change that truly empowers youth who are homeless and disconnected to pursue a life of opportunity.

Donate to CHMO for GiveSTL

Covenant House Missouri: Compassion for Kids

Photo by Sarah Conroy

An Article by Amanda Dahl, Ladue News

Runaways deserve more than judgments, according to Covenant House Missouri, an organization that seeks to protect and support the community’s youth. “We serve all of God’s children with unconditional love. We help kids ages 16 to 21 who are not in the foster care system and falling through the cracks in our society,” executive director Suzanne King says.

King delves deeper to discuss the root of this community crisis. “Typically, kids come to us because of family dysfunction,” she explains. “They might come for one night because they’re not ready for structure. If they come back, our crisis center is all about stabilization. We have two residential programs: One is short-term, a 45-day stay, and [the other is] a transitional living [arrangement] where they can stay up to two years.”

Some youth work with Covenant House to be reunited with their families. Others encounter issues which seem insurmountable. “There isn’t a family [with a] healthy enough [environment] for them to come back to, so they move into our transitional program,” King shares. “It is more about developing independent living skills, so when they leave our program, they can move into the community as a young adult.”

Those skills come in the form of financial literacy, job training and employment opportunities. Big Picture School, the organization’s small, independent high school, offers project-based learning. “We will never suspend any student,” King states. “A lot of these kids have too much pride to say they are struggling. Our therapeutic staff supports the teacher as needed with students.” The children also develop work skills through community internships and employment programs, developing soft skills before moving to in-house job training. Community partners include Panera Bread and HM Dunn Aerospace.

“These kids have endured multiple traumas throughout their lives. Our staff is trained to recognize how that drives [kids’] behavior, looking underneath and behind that behavior to address the trauma,” King says. “Without impactful and intentional intervention, kids will fall through the cracks of the community and become chronic homeless adults. We could lose them to the streets, or they could lose their lives. This is really a prevention program. We’re giving them a launching pad into adulthood they might not have without Covenant House Missouri.”

Covenant House Missouri, 2727 N. Kingshighway Blvd., St. Louis, 314-533-2241, covenanthousemo.org

WHAT/WHEN/WHERE

Ninth Annual Stan Musial Hall of Fame Gala, April 29 at 6 p.m., Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis

The evening includes silent and oral auctions, plus a dinner. “One of our graduates will be the keynote speaker,” executive director Suzanne King says. “People [can] hear their story, what they’ve accomplished and what they’re still working towards.” Call 314-450-7670 or visit covenanthousemo.org to learn more.

Read the Full Article

Largest-Ever Research Studies Finds Almost One-Fifth of Surveyed Homeless Youth in St. Louis Are Victims of Human Trafficking

LGBTQ Youth, Young Women Disproportionately Affected, According to New Studies

Researchers announced findings today from the largest-ever combined sample of homeless youth in the United States and Canada, revealing that nearly one-fifth are victims of human trafficking, including those trafficked for sex, labor, or both.  Homeless youth in St. Louis were among those surveyed for the study; locally it was found that 18% of the 33 local respondents had been trafficked for sex, labor, or both.

The dual studies by researchers at The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research at the University of Pennsylvania and Loyola University (New Orleans) Modern Slavery Research Project, drew on interviews with 911 homeless youth across 13 cities, including 12 cities where homeless young people accessed services through Covenant House, between February 2014 and March 2017. Covenant House operates the largest network of residences and community service centers for homeless youth across the Americas, reaching more than 46,000 youth every year in 30 cities across six countries.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth were disproportionately affected.  Though they accounted for just 30% of the respondents interviewed, LGBTQ youth accounted for 80% of the sex trafficking victims. Overall, 16% of the young women interviewed were trafficked for sex and 8% of the young men interviewed were trafficked for sex. Only one respondent was trafficked for labor.

Nationally, the researchers found that 19.4% of the interviewed youth were victims of human trafficking, with 15% having been trafficked for sex, 7.4% trafficked for labor, and 3% trafficked for both.  Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.  Labor trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, debt bonding or slavery.

“Too many youth are desperate and alone on the streets.  Homelessness makes them vulnerable to traffickers,” said Covenant House President Kevin Ryan.  “We don’t have to live in a world where desperate kids are bought and sold.  If we want to reduce the number of youth who are trafficked, we have to end youth homelessness.  We can, we must, and we should.”

The 10-city studies encompassed interviews with young people aged 17 to 24.  Among the national reports’ key findings:

  • 15% of the total population of 911 young people had been trafficked for sex (21.4% of young women and 10% of young men).  An astounding 26.9% of LGBTQ youth reported experiences consistent with the U.S. federal definition of sex trafficking.
  • 32.1% of the youth interviewed had engaged in some way in the sex trade at some point: 40.5% of young females; 25.3% of young men. Fifty-six percent of the transgender youth reported being involved in the sex trade in some.

The Loyola research further found that:

  • 67.9% of the youth who had engaged in the commercial sex trade had done so while homeless.
  • While 21% of the youth interviewed had a history in the foster system, 29% of the youth who were trafficked and 27% of the youth who were engaged in the sex trade had been wards of the state or in the foster care system at some point in their lives.

“This critical study shows us that one in five homeless children is a victim of human trafficking,” said Anne Milgram, the former New Jersey Attorney General and now a Professor of Practice and Distinguished Scholar in Residence at New York University School of Law.  “It gives much needed insight into how we can better fight both homelessness and human trafficking, two terrible problems that are faced at the same time by many youth in America.  We need to act now to better fight these tragic events in the life of a child.”

Researchers interviewed homeless youth at Covenant House shelters in Anchorage, Atlanta, Detroit, Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Oakland, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Toronto, Vancouver, and Washington, D.C. Interviews were also conducted with young people at Tumbleweed, one•n•ten, and Native American Connections – all located in Phoenix.

For more information on these ground-breaking studies, go to CovenantHouseStudy.org

Founded in 1972, Covenant House is one of the largest privately funded agency in the Americas helping homeless youth, providing 24/7 crisis care and ongoing support to over 46,000 homeless youth each year in 30 cities across six countries. 

Covenant House Missouri Career Fairs

At Covenant House Missouri (CHMO), our employees are essential to our success. We value, respect, and embrace the many talents and gifts that a diverse team brings and understand diverse individuals can collectively work together to best assist our clients to reach their goals. As such, CHMO strives to be inclusive by seeing beyond visible differences and supporting each individual in the context of their reality, background, experience, skills, and perspectives that make one unique. This approach allows us to work with the youth we serve and the staff who support our mission in a respectful and meaningful way.

Please join us from 3pm – 7:30pm to learn more about Covenant House Missouri and our current openings.

When:

Tue, February 28, 2017
Thu, April 6, 2017
Wed, June 14, 2017
Tue, August 15, 2017

Where:

Covenant House Missouri
2727 N. Kingshighway Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63113

Parking and entrance through gated parking area to the left from Maffitt. Press the gate button to be let in.

What to Expect

  • Come interview ready with an up to date resume
  • Check in at the front desk when you arrive
  • Complete required paperwork: an application and on-line assessment
  • Meet current staff to find out about CHMO
  • Meet with interviewers

We strive to recruit, develop, and maintain an engaged workforce and encourage passionate, professional individuals to review our current openings listed on our website.

For More Information, Contact

Rebecca Guzman at 314.450.7674 or rguzman@covenanthousemo.org

CHMO Winter Newsletter 2016

What a year this has been for Covenant House Missouri and the youth we are so privileged to serve. In 2016, we implemented several big changes and initiated a culture shift across our agency. We moved from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. We created a new residential model based on trauma-informed care, knowing that so many of our residents’ lives have been altered by trauma. We opened a Big Picture Learning High School right here in our building, so that no young person must choose between working and receiving a high-school education. We added an evaluation component across the agency to enhance programs, staffing, and resource identification.

As we move forward into 2017, we will continue to provide holistic, individualized services – including mental health care, residential support, education, and community outreach – that will allow every young person to thrive and succeed. It is thanks to our volunteers, supporters, donors, and staff that we keep our doors open every day and never turn a struggling youth away, regardless of his or her life situation.

In this newsletter, we highlight some of the accomplishments of 2016. We visit the new Sanctuary Garden, a place of reflection and healing that was brought into existence by dedicated volunteers. We talk with Christy Horton, who is completing her practicum at Covenant House, and learn how important it is to strive for racial equity in everything that we do. We hear from Patience, a former Covenant House resident who recently received her GED, attained United States citizenship, and moved into her own apartment! Our blessings abound, and in so many ways.

Thank you for your continued dedication to Covenant House Missouri, and thank you for having a heart for our youth and our mission. Together with our Board of Directors, we are making a difference that changes lives.

 

Read more here: CHMO Winter Newsletter 2016

 

Respectfully,

Suzanne King
Executive Director

Take a Look at the Bigger Picture

This blog post was written by Matt Roberts, academic advisor for the Big Picture Learning High School at Covenant House Missouri. On August 22, the high school will officially open, and Matt will begin collaborating with a small group of youth to develop their individualized learning plans as part of the Big Picture model. To learn more about enrollment, contact Matt at 314.450.7685.

The United States takes pride in its foundation of freedom, individuality and revolutionary spirit and is constantly looking to learn from the past to improve the future. Yet when it comes to the educational system, there is a reliance on promoting compliance, conformity and standardization.

Here at Covenant House Missouri, we are starting a Big Picture School to better serve the community and our youth. Big Picture Learning was founded on the idea that education begins with a relationship and that the desire to learn is deeply, intrinsically human. It is the responsibility of schools to simply allow that desire to flourish with guidance and direction. Students of the Big Picture School learn on their own terms; utilizing internships, projects, exhibitions, and weekly advisories. Small classes allow our school to be agile and adapt to student needs while also giving us the ability to form strong, positive relationships with each student and their family.Supported by an internship coordinator, mentor, advisor, peers, and family, each student has a team of advocates ready and willing to assist in each student’s individual success.

We are excited and ready for the school year to begin. If you or someone you know would like to be a part of our new high school, then feel free to call, email, run, walk, dance, or fly out to Covenant House Missouri and take a look at the bigger picture!

 

The Evolution of Myles G.

This blog post was written by Eileen Ingrim, Employment Retention Specialist at CHMO. Eileen works with youth living at CHMO and in the community who participate in the Employment Skills program. Her deep love and compassion for all youth shines through as she shares Myles’ story.

Myles came to CHMO in 2011, initially to work on his GED.  He lived in the neighborhood near Covenant House and always wondered what we did here.  As he attended, he began to realize that CHMO does more than just one thing.

Myles began asking about our employment program, which led him to our job classes.  He excelled.  He was very engaged and interested in expanding his sphere of influence.  Myles graduated and was hired to be in our job training program, Garden Rangers.  He worked with us for the full 6 months.

During that time, AmeriCorps came to give a presentation to our youth about summer work. Myles was very interested, applied and was accepted to attend their Colorado site.  Myles had NEVER been out of St. Louis….but he was willing to go alone, and learn some new things. Myles learned that mountains are GIGANTIC! He learned that it is good to work with diverse groups. He experienced some rugged work: creating paths through mountains, fixing roads and working long days.  It was a fulfilling experience. Due to family situations, Myles returned before completing, but he definitely carries that experience with him.

Having Myles return to Covenant House to give back is a beautiful full circle.  Now that he is 26 years old, he definitely is in a different mindset. He is extremely humble, and while visiting, he was flooded with memories of what he was like as a youth and how he understands the street mindset. Myles eagerly met youth and commented on how his handshake has changed! Myles graduated from Eclipse Barber School is looking forward to returning to give haircuts and also share some motivation…some real talk.

Having Myles return and spend some time with me has been so rewarding. He reminded me of the value of what we do here at Covenant House and revived in me the classic truth that we really do plant seeds. DAILY.  Growth DOES happen. His interaction has rekindled my passion and my energy.  The main reason I am here is to impact this generation….and whether I see it or not, Myles inspired me to keep planting, keep loving and affirming, and to keep a joyful heart in the midst…because there is beauty right around the corner!

Open Intake Means Our Doors are Open to All Youth. Again. And Again. And Again.

Covenant House Missouri is an open intake agency, which means we accept all youth at whatever place they are in toward their journeys to independence. Our principles – immediacy, sanctuary, communicating values, structure and choice – are meant to guide youth through their personal traumas and toward becoming healthy, independent adults.

The path to independence is not without its bumps. We teach youth that they are the best experts of their own lives, and they must decide when they are ready to make positive changes. Sometimes this doesn’t happen upon the first stay. For some youth, leaving and returning to CHMO is a part of their growth. Covenant House becomes a safe and trusting place where they eventually feel empowered to stay.

In the post below, Troy Miles, a dedicated staff member who served youth for years as a case manager, explains what brings back youth to Covenant House Missouri.

Opportunities from the streets are offered daily for youth who are homeless.  Opportunities for employment, housing, education, among many others. The concern is that consistently these are inappropriate opportunities from those who traffic (sex and labor), those who charge a cost that is unthinkable (survival sex), and those who disguise manipulation as teaching to take away a youth’s willingness to trust.

When youth comes to Covenant House Missouri, they may have little to carry physically, but mentally and emotionally they are weighed down. Often times when they walk through our doors, it is hard to comprehend what a safe and caring opportunity looks like. So they leave and come back, and leave and come back, and leave and come back. They return because they start to understand that  that trust, respect and love don’t have to cost anything. The staff focus on their growth, not their mistakes. Youth return because in their own words “I figured out that this was the best place for me. It took me a while, but I get it now.”   This is what makes CHMO a place that makes youth who are homeless feel empowered to take steps toward independence.