Runaway and Homeless Youth Regional Alliance
The Runaway and Homeless Youth Regional Alliance is dedicated to creating a better system of care for disconnected youth in southeast Michigan. Made up of four agencies -- Alternative for Girls, Common Ground, Ruth Ellis Center, and Starfish Family Services -- the alliance wants to share data, improve outcomes for homeless youth, and increase public awareness about youth homelessness and the challenges faced by disconnected youth.
Michigan Nightlight: How does the alliance take a collective, collaborative approach to creating systemic change for children?
Runaway and Homeless Youth Regional Alliance Program Director Michele Legleitner
: All four agencies -- Alternative for Girls, Common Ground, Ruth Ellis Center, and Starfish Family Services -- currently in formal collaboration with the Runaway and Homeless Youth Regional Alliance realize that individually none of the agencies can combat youth homelessness independently; however, if we can all work together and build upon each other’s unique strengths we have a better chance of halting youth homelessness.
The RHY Regional Alliance objectives are to better deploy existing agency capacities and assets, demonstrate strengthened long-term impacts though a shared data system, increase efficiency in achieving self-sufficiency and family reunification outcomes, and prevent long-term poverty by enhancing regional systems to halt adolescent homelessness.
What really differentiates this program?
I truly believe what differentiates the program is that each agency is vastly unique; however, from the executive leadership teams down to direct care staff, we are dedicated to working together to achieve the same goals.
I truly believe what differentiates the program is that each agency is vastly unique; however, from the executive leadership teams down to direct care staff, we are dedicated to working together to achieve the same goals. Each of these agencies has a rich history helping those in need in southeast Michigan, and this is the first time, at least that I am aware of, that we are all formally united.
What are the keys to success for your program?
The most important key to success for the program is open communication with all four agencies on a regular basis. When trying to collaborate with four agencies it can be difficult, everyone has a lot already on their plates as it is. However, the alliance is fortunate enough that everyone involved is highly dedicated to the success of the alliance and able to make time at least monthly with representatives from all four agencies to discuss and move forward with the goals for the future year.
In the upcoming year the alliance is focused on building internal capacity and infrastructure to better work together, improve data collection and sharing among agencies, and carry out join efforts to increase public awareness about youth homelessness and the challenges faced by disconnected youth.
What existing challenges remain with this program and how do you plan to overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges for the alliance and the agencies involved is an overall lack or resources and funding available for youth programs in Michigan. Managing state and federal grant cuts to programs from the last few years and preparing for future cuts is always a daunting task.
In looking at other regional alliances across the country similar to yours, which do you think are doing exceptional
One of the biggest challenges for the alliance and the agencies involved is an overall lack or resources and funding available for youth programs in Michigan.
Honestly, and I am probably being biased, I am most impressed by the collaborate work that is being done right here in Michigan. We are a relatively small collaboration, and I am in awe of what alliance’s like the Michigan Network for Youth and Families is doing to advocate for the needs of the youth programs across Michigan.
How does the alliance organize the resources needed to progress with your agenda and make programs/projects happen?
When the grant was first approved, representatives from the four agencies met with an outside consulting agency. This meeting lead to the creation of a strategic plan of how the alliance was going to meet its objectives. Monthly representatives from each agency all meet together to ensure that we are still making forward motion with these objectives. In addition, all four agency CEOs met bimonthly to also review progress made with the alliance. This form of open communication and regularly scheduled meetings has helped the alliance stay on task and complete projects.