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Safety Net for Youth


Erie County Safety Net for Youth Committee
Criteria for Referral

1. Safety Net for Youth Committee (previously known as the Hard to Serve Committee): This Committee was established in 1998 in Erie County to provide a Safety Net for youth who would otherwise be at significant risk of harm because appropriate services cannot be accessed. The Safety Net Committee is composed of representatives of governmental and private agencies, and is a designated standing committee of the Erie County Community Coordinating Council on Children and Families. The Committee meets regularly on the 3rd Friday of the month at 8:30 a.m., at the Rath Building, 95 Franklin Street, in Room 805 unless otherwise notified. This Committee has a close working relationship with the Erie County Department of Mental Health's Single Point of Accountability and other regional systems that deal with high-needs youth.  To access the Safety Net Survey, please click on link above. For purposes of confidentially, each case will be identified by the youth's initials, birth date, and assigned a case code number. All efforts will be made to protect the confidentiality of the youth and their family.

2. Types of Referrals:

Emergency - this means that there is nowhere to go, that is, he or she is homeless unless intervention can take place.

Safety Net for Youth - this means that diligent effort has been made to find services for the youth. Evidence of rejections by traditional services or residential programs will be required (e.g. letters of rejection or documentation of phone contacts indicating rejection) and/or seriously emotionally disturbed educational status.

Re-referrals - these are youth that have been previously reviewed by the Safety Net for Youth Committee and current services are no longer appropriate.

3. Criteria for Referral: Cases are referred to the committee because there has been no alternative means to provide services to the youth in question. The major referral issues include the following:

  • Youth is under 21 years of age
  • Involved in or appears appropriate for services from two or more systems
  • Has had multiple rejections from referral programs
  • Current services are no longer appropriate or adequate to address the current needs of child and family
  • Lack of vacancy or resources

4. Process of Referral: The process to refer youth to the committee involves the following steps:

  • Initiation of Referral: Contact Safety Net for Youth c/o the Erie County Department of Mental Health at 858-8530. If unavailable, contact the Chair of HTS at 828-9447. The ECDSS case manager is usually the person responsible for referring the youth to the committee; however, any person who has responsibility for youth can make the initial referral.
  • Completing Form: The Emergency and Safety Net for Youth Survey Form will be faxed to the referring worker or can be accessed at the Safety Net Survey link above.  He/she is expected to complete the survey form and fax to 858-6264 or send it to the Erie County Department of Mental Health, attn: Safety Net for Youth c/o the Dept of Mental Health, 95 Franklin Street, Buffalo, NY 14202, or emailed to ECDMH.Safety Net@erie.gov, at least one week prior to the Committee's regular meeting (except for Emergency Referrals). To support the emergency situations, the survey needs to be completed and faxed as stated; and then a conference call can be initiated within 24 hours to discuss immediate placement alternatives. All documents that are sent to the committee and have youth or family names on them, it is important that identifying information be blacked out prior to faxing information. As mentioned, the youth is referred to by his or her initials, date of birth, and case code.
  • Packet of Information: There is need to provide the following information in order to help assess the youth's needs:
    • Survey Form
    • Current psychological and psychiatric evaluation and/or summary of behavioral issues/concerns
    • History of Cognitive Testing
    • Brief Placement History
    • Mobile Mental Health evaluation
    • Current psycho-social assessment
    • Educational information: This includes the level of special education needs and services
    • Medical information
    • Letters of rejection from providers, documentation that agencies report an inability to program for (i.e. no openings)
    • If applicable, completion of a Sexual Risk Assessment
  • Triage of Youth's Situation: To proactively plan for the youth, there will be efforts to shorten the length of time between referral and placement of the youth in a more stable situation. This assessment begins once the youth is logged into the Safety Net database.
  • Conference Calls: Once the Committee has all of the available information, a decision can be made whether there is a need for a conference call. Depending on need, triaging case conferences may take place to help facilitate the timely assessment of these high needs, multi-system youth with the necessary agency and government officials to assure a proper immediate plan can be put into place.
  • Follow up Conference Calls: These will be arranged as needed to help support case planning. The ECDMH representative and Care Management Coalition of WNY Safety Net representatives will coordinate conference calls. The following people are to be involved:
    1. Referring worker/ECDSS Case Manager and Supervisor; and Clinical Specialist (as needed), referring agency representatives.
    2. Representatives from NYS Office of Mental Health, OMRDD, OCFS, WNY Children's Psychiatric Center, Erie County Department Mental Health, EC Family Court, EC Medical Center, et al, as necessary to the case. In addition, there will be psychiatrists/psychologists/social workers as relevant to the assessment and evaluation of the youth.
    3. Educational officials as necessary.
    4. Representatives from potential services agencies.
    5. Other people relevant to the case.

      Note: Efforts will be made to identify critical case issues and come up with a short-term plan for stabilization/evaluation, and work toward a longer-range plan for treatment. An Action Log will be completed to help document issues discussed and decisions made.
  • Case Planning/Monitoring: The Safety Net for Youth Committee meets monthly to more comprehensively assess progress in the case; minutes of these meetings will help document progress and facilitate services that can lead toward permanency. There will be a utilization review process in place to help identify patterns and systemic problems, and to help track referring issues, barriers to treatment, diagnoses, et al.
  • Case Closings: Once appropriate services are in place and the youth stabilized, the case will be closed.