SOAR Webinar Introducing SOAR for Children

SOAR Webinar Introducing SOAR for Children


– [Pam] Hello everyone and
welcome to the third webinar in our 2019 Webinar Series titled Introducing the
SOAR Child Curriculum. My name is Pam Heine,
senior project associate with the SOAR TA Center and I
will be your moderator today. Before we begin, just a few
housekeeping items to review. A disclaimer. This training is supported
by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the US Department of
Health and Human Services. The contents of this presentation
do not necessarily reflect the views of policies of SAMHSA or DHHS. The training should not be considered substitute for individualized
care and treatment decisions. A few webinar instructions. As a reminder, your lines will be muted throughout the entire webinar. This webinar is being recorded and will be available for download on the SOAR website in about a week. You may download now
the presentation slides and other materials by going
to the top left of your screen and clicking file and
save and then document. Or you can visit the SOAR
website, at soarworks.traimc.com Click webinars on the left sidebar and choose today’s topic. At the conclusion of the webinar, you will immediately
see a brief evaluation which we kindly ask you to complete and finally, we will save
all questions and comments until the end of the presentations at which time we will review instructions for posing questions to
panelists via the Q&A function. Just a couple of our
learning objectives today. It is our intention that
by the end of this webinar you’ll have a better understanding of the goals and objectives
related to the addition of the SOAR Online Course for Children. You’ll also learn how SOAR providers can begin to integrate SOAR for Children into your SOAR initiative and we’ll outline some recommendations for implementing SOAR for Children with your community plans to end family and youth homelessness. As we review the agenda briefly,
to reach those objectives, we look in this afternoon
with presentations from Kristin Lupfer, the SAMHSA SOAR, TA Center Project Director. We will then hear from Caroline Bolas who is the Maryland SOAR Director. Next up, providing a
SOAR a local perspective from Austin, Texas is Suzie
Brady who’s the local lead and rounding up the
presentation is Laura Kolb, Staff Attorney with the
Homeless Advocacy Project in Philadelphia who has
experience in filing SSI applications for children. Each attended the recent SOAR Leadership Academy for Children which was held in Washington DC. So we are thrilled to have
them share their experiences and initial plans with us today. And finally, we will end
with plenty of time for Q&A which are facilitated by
the SOAR TA Center staff. So providing today’s
welcome is Robert Grace, SOAR project officer with
the Homeless Programs Branch, the Center for Mental Health Services in Rockville, Maryland. Bobby. – [Robert] Thank you Pam. On behalf of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services administration, and the Homeless Program Branch, Center for Mental Health Services, I would like to welcome
you to this SAMHSA, SSI SSDI outreach access
and recovery SOAR webinar called, Introducing SOAR for Children. Many of you already know
that SAMHSA SOAR help states and communities increase access to social security disability
benefits for eligible adults and now children and
youth who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and have a serious mental illness, medical impairment and or a core occurring substance use disorder. Today’s webinar will focus on
the new and expanded edition of the SOAR Online
Course, Child Curriculum. This webinar will also help you learn more about how to take the first step towards integrating SOAR for children into your SOAR Program. I would like to especially
thank our presenters for your willingness to
share your expertise with us. Again, warm welcome and thank
you all for joining us today. Now I’ll turn things
back over the Pam Heine who will be moderating today’s webinar. Thanks again, Pam. – [Pam] Thank you Bobby
for your generous welcome. I will now turn the mic over to Kristin who will kick things off. Kristin, please begin your presentation. – [Kristin] All right, thanks
Pam and hello everyone. I am very excited to speak with you today about how SOAR can help end
homelessness, build resiliency and promote recovery
for children and youth with disabilities who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. I’m to share with you a little bit about how the SOAR program
expansion to include children, why it’s important and how it works. All right, so we have a lot
of people joining us today who are currently involved
with SOAR for adults. I also know that we are
welcoming quite a number of you who are new to SOAR completely and are here to learn about how you can get involved with SOAR to serve your population
of children and youth. So we’ll start from the beginning. SOAR stands for SSI, SSDI,
Outreach, Access and Recovery. But it’s not just about the application. It’s about what role the benefits can play in transforming lives. SOAR is a SAMHSA sponsored program that focuses on increasing access to social security disability
benefits for individuals, now including both adults and children who are experiencing or
at risk of homelessness and have a serious mental
illness, medical condition or co-occurring substance use disorder. So for adults is currently
active in all 50 states and the district of Columbia. But each state is at a different
level of implementation and SOAR for Children is just beginning. There is no specific federal funding or grants for SOAR activities and so the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center works with states and communities to develop plans for
implementing the program through technical assistance and training. So how did it come to
this expansion of SOAR? The SOAR training and process
was originally developed for adult SSI and SSDI
applications in 2005. We worked hard for nearly
10 years rolling SOAR out to all 50 states and the
district of Columbia. And we were fielding
questions during that time about SSI for children, but we didn’t yet have
an answer or a solution. In 2014, we issued the
Child SSI issue brief, which was a wonderful
introductory resource for SOAR providers who
wanted to better understand SSI for Children, but it
was a temporary solution to the need for something more. So we began some formal
discussions about SOAR for Children with the SAMHSA Child,
Adolescent and Family branch in the spring of 2017. And those plans developed
and were approved and we launched the huge undertaking of developing this SOAR
Online Course Child Curriculum with an expert panel in September of 2017. We brought together
experts from child welfare, Medicaid, systems of care and
children’s behavioral health and school systems, juvenile justice, youth and family organizations and more. And these experts helped to
shape the direction of our work and many of them consulted
on and helped draft key parts of the curriculum. After extensive reviews
from SAMHSA and SSA and the hard work of the
SAMHSA SOAR TA Center team at Policy Research Associates, a very special shout out to my team, we launched the SOAR Online
Course, Child Curriculum on October 31st, 2018. So why SOAR for children? Why did we embrace this huge undertaking? Why was it so important
to SAMHSA to expand SOAR? We know from data collected by the National Center
for Homeless Education and the National Center
on Family Homelessness that children and youth who
are experiencing homelessness have higher rates of disability and experience higher rates
of mental health problems, developmental delays and
poor cognitive outcomes than their stably housed peers. We know from 2018 Annual
Homeless Assessment Report to Congress that they were
56,342 families with children representing 180,413 individual adults and children experiencing
homelessness in 2018. There were 36,361
unaccompanied homeless youth under the age of 25 in 2018 and we also know that
unaccompanied homeless youth are more likely to be unsheltered than all people experiencing homelessness. The time is now. So if we want to build a foundation for resiliency and recovery, then we need a strong
brick of steady income. We also know that we need
employment and education and health insurance to provide stabilizing brick in that foundation. And income is just the beginning. So social security benefits and programs are complex and there’s a lot to learn. And so I’m going to give you just a taste so we’re all on the same page and I leave you wanting a little bit more. And for those of you who are familiar with SSI and SSDI for Adults,
I want you to listen closely because there are special considerations and eligibility criteria for children. The Social Security Administration offers supplemental security
income or SSI for children that’s birth from up to age 18 attainment. And the benefit is for children
who are disabled or blind. The nonmedical financial need for SSI is a complete picture
of the child’s income, resources and living arrangement, as well as their family resources. And like with adults, the
maximum federal benefit rate is $771 per month in 2019 and comes with Medicaid in most states. It’s very important to understand how SSA defines disability. The social security definition
is going to be different than your doctor’s definition, your insurance company’s definition and what’s outlined in a child’s IEP. SSA is looking for three
primary components. Does the child have a
medically determinable, physical or mental
impairment that has lasted or is expected to last 12 months or more or results in death? And does the child have
significant functional impairments as they compare to
children of the same age who do not have physical
or mental impairment? So like with adults,
this is not a short term or partial disability program and having a diagnosis is not enough. Having a chronic condition is not enough. That illness or condition must be impacting the
child’s functional abilities. The evaluation steps for
children’s disability is different than for an adult. Some of you are likely familiar with that five step sequential
evaluation for adults but for children, there are only three. And social security is still
looking at whether the child is working and earning SGA. And so if they are a child of working age and earning $1,220 a month,
substantial gainful activity, then they’re not eligible for SSI. But if not, SSA will determine whether the child has a severe impairment. If yes, they will then determine
if the child’s impairment meets medically equal or
functionally equal the listing. So this is the only step that a child can be approved for benefits. However, you’ll notice
that compared to adults, there’s an additional opportunity to functionally equal the listing. And we go into great detail
in a SOAR Online Course, Child Curriculum about how SSA looks at the domains of functioning. And so I hope that you can see
that even if you’re an expert at adult SSI and SSDI, that
you’ll have a lot to learn about child SSI. The good news is that the
SOAR process remains the same with the expansion to include children. We have learned so many great
lessons over the last decade. We know what elements are essential to a successful SOAR program. We know SOAR providers
need comprehensive training through the SOAR Online Course, and SOAR Online Course
Review Session training, staff who are dedicated
and can maintain contact with the applicant and provide outreach services when necessary. We know successful providers
are completing the SSA 1696 and serving as the applicant’s
appointed representative, collecting and submitting medical records to support the disability application, collaborating with
physicians for assessments and medical information needed
to support the application, submitting a medical summary report along with the application and doing so, with a quality review process that includes tracking
outcomes to measure success. So this model is parallel
for child and adult cases. There are definitely more
players and stakeholders involved as we expand this work and
there are technical details to learn about new forms
and eligibility criteria but the strategies that we use to submit good quality applications that are approved quickly,
that remains the same. So through community collaboration,
partnerships with SSA and the disability determination services and medical providers, SOAR
of trained case managers have been able to successfully
assist over 39,213 people to get approved for benefits
on their initial application. And for unassisted applications from people experiencing homelessness, the average approval rate
on an initial application is only about 10 to 15%
and the national average for all applicants isn’t much higher. Only about 29%. So most people are denied on
their initial application. However, the national SOAR approval rate is over double that at 65%. SOAR decisions are made
in an average of 100 days and there’s no more waiting
one to two years for an appeal. SOAR is all about getting
it right the first time. Select providers in a few states have been implementing SOAR with Children and tracking their decision. So for 368 decisions, they
saw a 72% approval rate and an average of 106 days to decision. So we know that SOAR of
works for children too. SOAR cannot and does
not function in a vacuum and we rely heavily on
our community partners and are so glad to be welcoming new
partners to the initiative. First and foremost, the
Social Security Administration is an central collaborator. As many of you know, FSA
is the federal agency that’s administering at
the SSI and SSDI for adults and SSI for children. And because SSI is federal, their eligibility rules are
the same in every state. And they’re making that
nonmedical decision on the claim. However, it doesn’t stop there. Every state has a Disability
Determination Services or SDS. It’s working in partnership with SSA to make the medical or
disability determination. We’ve got medical and treatment providers that are extremely important
to gain access to assessments and valuations and the
corresponding medical records that support the claim. And we know it’s really
important to involve partners from criminal justice and
juvenile justice organizations from veteran’s affairs and active duty military family services,
employment and education programs, schools, housing providers, peer youth and family run
organizations and others that help you ensure that individuals who are served by SOAR are receiving a comprehensive
services and support, and that your SOAR program
is not operating in a silo. So we’ve created an
organizational chart of SOAR that you can tell how
the pre flat structure includes the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center all 51 state and district team leads, hundreds of local leas and
thousands of case managers. And we all have slightly
different roles and expectations when it comes to providing
training, answering questions, tracking outcomes, doing quality review and assisting directly with applications. However, we are all ambassadors
for the SOAR Initiative in our United in ending homelessness for individuals with disabling condition. So the sample SOAR TA
Center provides support to states and communities both virtually and through onsite support. We have liaisons who
are responsible for SOAR in multiple states and who
build relationships locally to provide personalized service. We provide assistance
from strategic planning at the state level and
developing funding plans and key collaborations
with federal partners to helping case managers
with question number 25 on the SSI application. If it has something to do with social security
disability application, we want to help make the process smoother, more timely and at a higher quality. We offer SOAR over lunch calls for new and season caseworkers to get their questions answered and we celebrate success stories
in our monthly newsletter. We train local and state leaders
in our leadership academy and maintain a library
packed full of tools and resources for use by
stakeholders at all levels. I mentioned earlier that we’ve released the SOAR Online Course for Children at the end of October last year. That means that we now offer two complete 20-hour courses in our catalog. Both courses are online, free and available to take
any time and anywhere. We estimate that it takes about 20 hours to complete including the
practice case component and that successful completion
comes with 20 free CEUs from the National Association
of social workers. In January, we just trained 29 leaders from across the country at our SOAR for Children
Leadership Academy and we anticipate that
they will be offering training cohorts in their communities to help support participants
through the course completion and include that in person review session, to connect with local trainees. Like the adult curriculum, the child curriculum includes
seven classes of articles, short quizzes, and a comprehensive
practice case component. We’ve developed tools,
worksheets and other resources that are specific to
working with children, youth, parents and caregivers
on child SSI claims. The Child Curriculum offers two fictionalized practice case studies. One for a 12-year old boy
who lives with his mother and sister in a shelter and
one for a 16-year old girl who had been living in
foster homes and group homes. We’ve developed medical
records from specialists, behavioral health providers
and provided sample IEPs and we give the learner
a realistic scenario to practice completing
the required SSA form and a complete medical summary report for each fictional child applicant. So many people ask us what it takes to get involved with SOAR. And like I mentioned, the training takes approximately 20 hours and then we then estimate that based on both anecdotal evidence and information that’s reported in our outcome tracking system, that it can take 20 to 40 hours to complete each application. So having dedicated staff time to learning and then implementing the model is a really important consideration
that requires planning and supervisor commitment. We have a resource on the SOAR website that outlines the importance of implementing the fidelity model and tracking those outcome. It’s really worth the time investment. The benefit to the individuals you serve is first and foremost. But it also brings medicaid reimbursement, funding opportunities
and mission fulfillment to your agencies. So for those of you who
are already involved with SOAR for Adults, identify children and youth counterparts with your existing stakeholders. Ask them for their contacts
in each specialty area and organize the SOAR
for Children orientation with your local and state or leaders. If you are part of your
SOAR leadership team, schedule a separate
meeting with SSA and DDS to discuss the SOAR process
for child SSI claim. Definitely talk to your
SOAR state team lead or SAMHSA SOAR TA Center liaison first to see if those discussions
have already started. And we definitely
recommend that you include youth and parents on
your steering committees. These are essential voices
that you need for success. You can find your local contacts
for SAMHSA systems of care for a family run organizations
and for youth move chapters at the following links. I think I went pass it. Maybe the slide isn’t the same but we’ll get that slide added for you. We don’t want to see
your siloed SOAR program. So we encourage SOAR programs to integrate child and youth providers
in existing efforts. We want you to hold inclusive meetings that represent adult and
child for stakeholders. And you can also form work
groups or sub committees that focus on special issues that arise. There may be a sub committee that focuses on unaccompanied youth or a work group that strives to build relationships with the local school
system for education records and teacher collaboration. So I’m going to talk very briefly about tracking outcomes because
it is absolutely essential to the successful implementation and expansion of this program. And I just can’t talk about
SOAR without talking about. So we provide a free web based database to track SOAR outcomes. It is very user friendly,
it’s on a secure server and it’s HIPPA compliant. Registration is easy, there
are multiple user roles to help with agency, local and state leads in order to facilitate an
ease of reporting and review. And did I mention that it’s free? So here is a screenshot
of our snazzy dashboard that gives some nice monthly snapshots in comparison to state
and national numbers and we tracked some basic
outcomes information and some additional optional information to keep the data entry burden low. Only a couple of minutes per application, but to still provide
rich data and reporting as child SSI cases can be
tracked and reported through OAT. So we want to encourage you
to gather more information about SOAR and consider
incorporating SOAR for Children into your services. If you visit the SOAR website and go to SOAR in your state, you can find your state team lead and your SAMHSA SOAR TA Center liaison and you can check out our website and the new child curriculum
and please reach out to us at the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center for other questions you may have or if you’d like to make
a plan for using SOAR. And finally we have some
additional resources. Here are links here for
you for future reference. That concludes my presentation and I’d like to turn it over to my esteemed colleague Caroline Bolas to talk to you about
implementing SOAR in Maryland. – [Caroline] Thank you so much Kristin and thank you too for giving
me the chance to speak today. I’m very happy to be here. So I’d just like to start off by talking a bit about the
SOAR program in Maryland. Since we started tracking data in 2009, we have submitted over 1,600 claims. We have an ongoing approval
rate of 86% for initial claims and 77% for appeals. And one of the things
we’ve really tried to do is to focus on supporting
high quality claims. We’ve done this in a number of ways. We in addition to having
the online training, we also have a one day in-person training that focuses specifically on some of the Maryland process
and our DDS liaison comes and talks about their work as well. We also introduced some years ago a SOAR certification process which is over and above
being SOAR trained. And so individuals have to
do a surf number four cases and have a certain number approved. They submit that MSLs and their data forms and a self assessment form and
then a review committee looks and provides feedback. And not only has this
helped with the quality it’s also really helped with recognition. ‘Cause again it’s really showing that we value the work
of our case managers. We are very fortunate to
have excellent relationships with DDS and we have a
group of 10 examiners who deal with all our SOAR claims and they’re a great resource
in terms of helping us when things are going well,
but also giving us information if we need to change how
we’re doing our claims. We have a structure of
local leads and work groups. I’ll talk about at a later slide, but we also have a
statewide planning group made up of representatives
from DDS, from SSA, community providers, doors and a whole host of very
committed individuals. And then lastly, for the last five years we have held an annual SOAR conference. This basically is a chart to bring our SOAR community
together, to hear presentations, to learn from one another
and also we have a SOAR value and action awards that
really allow us to recognize the work of our partners, our community, and how they really all
work together to bring SOAR. And we do this all works
through a combination or from funded and mostly non-funded SOAR-trained case managers who are absolutely instrumental
in making our program grow. So I was fortunate enough to attend the first Children’s
Leadership Academy in January. And afterwards, I took some time to reflect on that experience and I first went in terms of feelings, it was like, wow, this is exciting but it also felt daunting. There’s a whole new set
of languages and new forms and then I thought, well, we were here once before with adults SOAR. Let’s embrace the excitement and know that we are going to have a lot of support along the way. The other key thing though, I think it really
allowed me to think about by thinking about children and SOAR, it has effect on our adult program and how are we doing things. Can we be doing things differently? Having new people in the
room, having new ideas I think we’ll also enhance
what we’ve been doing as well. A surprised to me was I had said before I went to on the course,
and before I did the course, I went to the academy that I didn’t think we’d have to do the
full children’s course. Hey, how different can it be? Maybe we would just do like
a short couple of hours and then having done the online course and been to the academy, I’m
now really clear that yes, there are similarities, but
the differences are enough to really say doing the full
online course is essential. So even if someone has
been trained in SOAR, doing it for years, I think going through the online
curriculum is so important. And then lastly, picking
up on what Kristin said, I think SOAR is such a learning community just really knowing
that there’s going to be a lot of support not
only from the TA Center but also from the other states. People are very willing to
share their information. And so that adds to that excitement that we’re not doing this alone. So again, thinking about
the children program gave us time to think about, okay, so what can we take from what we’ve done with the adult program? What worked? What perhaps didn’t work? And starting with the
part that didn’t work, on the selection is I
think like a lot of states we sort of rushed to want to train people and perhaps didn’t do
enough preparation work. And so you have the situation where somebody might try and do a claim and they ask somebody to
sign this strange thing called a medical summary
report and they’re told, I don’t know what you mean, or why do you need medical records or what is this thing called SOAR? And with that, also training individuals who’ve perhaps were never
going to do an application. So rather than perhaps
saying you need a leaflet or you needed two-hour presentation, putting people through a
two-day training as it was then, was something that really
they were not going to actually use practically. So they were things that we really sort of want to make sure
we avoid moving forward. But lots of things have worked well that we also want to embrace. So one of the things that
we found really helpful was actually concentrating
on growing SOAR area by area. So rather than having
a scatter gun approach, actually saying, okay, let’s
come into this community and really work on establishing it and then use those lessons learned to move on to the next community. And they can also be mentors as well. Key to that have been our local leads who really are the driving
force for SOAR in Maryland. They have that in depth
knowledge of their community. They know who needs to be at the table and they know who the person that has to have this information. So their knowledge and commitment has really, really been important. They know the medical
providers, et cetera. And so again, having that structure really helped us get an understanding because obviously, there may be difference in a rural community versus urban ones. I agree we’ve been through
it again about data. Really right from the
start, collecting that data, sharing that data,
celebrating those successes. We still do the SOAR happy dance when we get those approvals. And really helping people see that what they’re doing matters. And conversely, it won’t all go smoothly. It never all goes smoothly. We are working with the most complex cases and so there will be challenges. So again, trying to have
a problem solving approach rather than just complaining
or being negative, what can we do to overcome those and trying to act quickly
rather than let things fester. And then one thing that
really I think really helped was again, even before we trained anybody, before we do the first
application in the community, really reaching out to those
providers, explaining SOAR, explaining what the
medical summary report is and what I would like them to sign it. This is why we need those medical records and I think doing it at the beginning is so much better than
waiting to the cases that DDS and then panicking
because you need it now. This way we could really work on the timescales of the providers, go and meet with them when
they were ready for us and explain how they could help us. And so that really worked well. So that moves us onto thinking about, how are we going to move
forward with children and SOAR. For me personally, a big thing has been and continues to be is research. Before this, I have really
had very little contact with the world of children. My experience has always
been adult mental health work and so this is exciting but
it’s like a whole new language, a whole new system to
really get my head around. I’ve been very fortunate
to have actually met with Denise Hilback and her team at the Institute for
Innovation and Implementation and that was so helpful. And yet I also know there’s
a lot more to learn as well. So really looking at who
are the key stake holders. Some will be the same, some
will already know about SOAR, others, this might be really new. So trying to work out who
do we need to be talking to, both to learn and also to share, to bring those two worlds together. Thinking about what their role will be. Again, not everybody
needs to know everything, but who will be doing applications, who will be sharing this
part of the process. So having those conversations. And then really being able
to articulate the need and value proposition for SOAR. For using like the statistics
that Kristin shared with us. Again for the adult SOAR we
have a lot of information and really be able to articulate
the need in a clear way is going to be really important when we sort of pitch to providers. And then we intend to do the
same as we did with adult SOAR and really start with one
community, see what works, have lessons learned and
then build from there. So either one or two pilot sites. And thinking about those
pilots sites again, who’s going to be that local lead and how are they’re going to
work with our adult local lead? But really wanting to have the expertise of somebody who is really amassed in the children’s community. We plan for them, and after then, coordinate a local stakeholder meeting, see who we need to invite,
get them to the table. That will be a way to share
information, to hear concerns, to hear what people think will work and from that create a work plan that will look at things like who is going to do their application? Who is going to need to know about SOAR? Who might be the medical provider? How can we talk with
them about the process? So have that all planned before we actually start
training case managers or whoever’s going to be
doing the applications. And really using that local knowledge. Although the SOAR
components remain the same, we do know that there’s
lots of differences and so we find having people at the table really come up with the process allows us to really use their
knowledge and get a plan that’s going to work. One thing we have found too is sometimes, someone will come and
they’re really excited, but when they go back to the agency, the decision makers are, we
don’t think this is a good idea. So again, the importance of really trying to reach the directors, and explaining, so we get that buy in, so they can give us the resources that we
need to make this happen. And then lastly, really being
clear that this is a pilot. There are going to be challenges. Some things aren’t going to work but we’re learning together. And so having that sort of
can do positive attitude I think will make a huge difference. So we see ourselves as
sort of SOAR pioneers, and really, doing something very exciting and really being able to
at the end of the day, really make a difference in people’s lives which we definitely want. So, we didn’t do the slide. (laughs) That is it for me. – [Pam] Thank you so much Caroline, for sharing your insight,
your initial thoughts on moving forward with integrating SOAR with your adults initiative and also sharing how important it is to highlight the differences between the adult and child curriculum. But we are getting some questions early on that aspect question. If I’m a season SOAR
casework are for adults, should I enroll in the
online course for children and I really appreciate that
you’ve answered that question throughout your presentation. That there are enough differences that you should enroll and
complete the online course. So thank you so much for that and your very positive outlook on bringing SOAR into Maryland. So with that, we’re gonna to continue with hearing a local
perspective from Suzie Brady who is the SOAR local
lead in Austin, Texas. Suzie. – [Suzie] Hello everyone. I work for Integral Care in Austin, which is the local mental health authority for both Austin and Travis County. And we provide support
for adults and children living with mental illness,
substance use disorder or intellectual and
developmental disabilities throughout our community. Our services include crisis intervention, ongoing counseling and treatment
in connection to resources in order to assist with recovery. We currently have two
local leads for our area, which is much needed for the rate of which
SOAR is growing here. I co-lead with the COC
source systems coordinator, Nicky Kozack. So FYI, when you hear me saying we for the remainder of my
portion of the webinar, that’s going to be referring
to both me and Nicky because we are leading this together and but then my Agency Integral Care, we have 14 SOAR trained employees across 10 different clinics and programs. I lead a team of three full time dedicated SOAR specialists. One within our supported housing programs, one that works with all
of our different app teams and one that is based out of
one of our integrated clinics. As team lead, I directly supervise
the dedicated specialists and provide group supervision and oversight to all SOAR
providers throughout our agency. I’m going to mirror what
everyone has said so far, but completing the SOAR child curriculum and then attending the first ever Child SOAR Leadership Academy provided me with an unbelievable amount
of knowledge and energy to start a child SOAR initiative here. And the first thing I want to reiterate and then I definitely
get asked a lot is yes. You do need to take the
children’s online course. The information is different and it is really imperative
even for adult experts. So you learn the importance of accurately describing a
child’s functional impairments. Social security will use this
information that you provide, to determine how the
child’s functional abilities compare to the functional abilities of a child the same age, who does not have physical
or mental impairments. The child claims the impairment
can meet medically equal or functionally equal the listing and there are six domains of functioning that can be used to determine if the child functionally equals the
severity level of a listing. The course goes into great detail on these domains and
offers a ton of information to help with this portion of the disability determination process. Those of you that have
taken the adult course you know that it’s really
the best online course I’ve ever taken and the
child for curriculum is just as good. It’s awesome. You do use some of the same forms as you do for adult claims, but you’re not necessarily
filling them out the same way. Also, there are additional forms to learn about and practice on. What I really liked about the child course was having the examples
that you can look through, They have a applicant’s IEP records and a teacher questionnaire. The teacher questionnaire is
a special social security form that teachers fill out for children that are
applying for disability. You get examples of these
that you can look through, just become more familiar with and then use for writing your MSR and filling out all the forms and that is so crucial
with the SOAR online course because they’re not just taking
all of the information in. You’re also given a chance to use it. It’s one of the things that, it’s one of the biggest hurdles after you complete the online course is actually starting and
completing your first claim with a real person. But the fact that you’ve already
done all of those documents with your fake person,
it really helps out a lot and you feel much more
confident in your abilities. Leadership Academy. It’s an incredible experience for anyone that is interested in becoming a SOAR
leader in your community. It’s truly awesome to be a part of such an amazing group of people that are doing such great work
just throughout the nation. This particular Child
SOAR Leadership Academy came at just the right time for me personally, professionally. The energy from our
instructors who are awesome and the participants just really served to rejuvenate my spirit and
my belief in what we do. And that those of us here, we
know how important that is. There’s really no greater motivator for getting SOAR started in a community than a SOAR Leadership Academy experience. And you also get a lot of
assistance and information about options for both funding and sustainability of your SOAR programs and that’s something that we all need. Importance of community. One thing that we have worked
hard at forming in our area is a vibrant and
supportive SOAR community, even going as far as having
SOAR support groups every month. We want to integrate
our childcare providers into this network and
maintain the same support and sense of community for everyone utilizing a SOAR process in our area. It really is so important
to have that connection and sense of community
as the SOAR provider. If your area doesn’t have
that yet, then create it. Reach out to your state lead and find out about ways you can connect to other SOAR providers in your state. Always remember that the TA Center provides many opportunities
to connect with others using the SOAR process nationwide as well. I love the soaring of our lunch calls. Those are great and it
just helps to remember that you aren’t alone in this. So it’s just very
important to remember that. The combination of the Leadership Academy is coming up with your action plan steps that you will be taking
upon your return home. My plan is to start with
implementing Child SOAR within my own agency
with my very first claim. Our Families with Voices Program
provides housing services to the parents of children
receiving mental health services who have been identified
by local school district as being at risk of homelessness. So these case managers are now aware of the childbirth process
and have already sent some referrals for me to look into. So I’m hoping that someday I may be able to train someone that’s on their team to be the SOAR specialist
on that team as well and go from there. But right now I am
working on doing my own. Nicky and I are putting
together a survey monkey to send out on our homeless services electronic mailing list,
just gauge interest about utilizing Child
SOAR within the community. We’ve already made sure
our adult SOAR providers know about the Child Curriculum and there’s some that
have expressed interest in taking the Child Course as well. I’ve also talked to our CSC and my co-lead about incorporating questions
that assess child’s disability and income sources that include child FSI into our coordinated assessment process. That is exciting. A big part of our job over
the next couple months will definitely be research. We will be looking into child
and family serving entities to assess for interests,
training needs they would have and possible referrals. We also need to examine which
of the existing agencies that do adults SOAR claims are also serving children and families. We want to be able to build
upon the relationships that we already have along
with creating new ones and we do have some ideas already for some pilot programs that
we think would work out well. And I’m also planning on reaching out to our state coordinators
for McKinney-Vento to explore collaborations and contacts I can connect
with in the school districts. I think the SOAR website has links that go to each of the state coordinators for McKinney-Vento. One thing that is really great about living in a state
capitol of the big state, is that you have easier access to one of the state
coordinators of things. So lucky for me, they
are just down the road. So, I am going to be
meeting with them soon. I also want to explore the possibility of working with some of
the school-based therapists within my own agency. Integral Care has licensed
therapists based in schools that provide onsite mental health support to students experiencing
mental health issues and struggling with substances and hoping this may be a
good connection to make for the further
implementation of Child SOAR within my agency. So when discussing how we would introduce the Child SOAR process in our community, we started with Austin’s action
plan to end homelessness. Families with children represent approximately 11% of our
homeless population in Austin. We are going to advocate that Child SOAR can be a key part in helping to end family homelessness in our community. It would allow for families
to have more resources to be able to adequately care
for their child or children and not be in a position
of having to choose between health care for that child, other basic needs and rent. SOAR specifically mentioned an action plan as part of our solution,
expanding those two children would only enhance what
we are already doing and looking for ways to train agencies who specifically target this population will significantly pay off. Austin is also one of 10 communities selected by HAP Nationwide to be part of the Youth
Homelessness Administration Program. Since this program is
for youth ages 18 to 24, we’re currently looking
at any of the youth that have children that could
possibly qualify for SSI. We are hoping that in the next year, a child specific local lead
for Austin will emerge. I expect things to start
growing and changing fast once our Child SOAR Initiative gets going here in our community. I’m definitely going to keep my eye out for someone that would be able
to take the Child SOAR range mains and work with me and Nicky to keep SOAR strong in Austin. That is it for me. – Thank you so much Suzie.
– You’re welcome. – [Pam] You’ve done so much since January when we had the Leadership Academy and reaching out to potential
child serving agencies and planting those seeds
to grow SOAR for Children in the Austin area. So thank you so much. You’ve done so much. Now we’re going to turn
it over to Laura Kolb, staff attorney with the
Homeless Advocacy Project in Philadelphia who’s going
to share her experience from a provider’s perspective
and also two success stories that I think you will
all really enjoy seeing how SSI can be really
transformative to the kids and also their families. Laura. – [Laura] Hi everybody. Thanks so much for having me. I’m really happy to be here and to have a chance to talk to you all. So what I’d like to do with my time is I’ll give you a brief background about HAP or the Homeless
Advocacy Project, for those of you who might not be familiar with our organization. And then an overview of some of the work we’ve been doing with SOAR and looking ahead to
what we hope to expand to include Children’s SOAR and the Children’s Leadership Academy and what that was like
and then talk about, highlight a couple recent cases
that we handled here at HAP for kids who had SSI claims. And then I think hopefully, I
tried to choose two examples that I’ll let us think a bit about how those experiences
and representing those kids can inform our expanded work
with kids going forward. So HAP provides free civil legal services here in Philadelphia for
individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness, but we do a lot of a wide
range of issues we handle, but we do a lot, a lot of disability work and since 2009, we started
handling SOAR claims. And since then, we’ve filed 2,880 claims. We’ve got a 91% approval rate and right now our average
processing time is 58 days from application to the decision. And so we’re a little different than some of the other
people that you’ve heard from because we’re an in house model, meaning that we have a small staff here, but we’ve got seven
attorneys I think right now that file claims and two paralegals. And then we are supplemented with, we do have some SOAR
trained people that help us. They’re not case managers,
so they’re really, at this point, mostly
attorneys that work with us that are on a pro bono basis that have all been SOAR trained. So I’m not sure how
many of them there are, but we have like a core of them that we’re always training
and keeping in the loop. I’m so sorry. I knew I was going to forget to do that. Look, now you can see what I just said. All right. So currently we do provide SOAR services for a lot of different populations. So we started with adults and shelter, adults with serious mental
illness through DBH. The project that I oversee
is the DHS SOAR project and that was developed
to provide SOAR services for youth that are aging out of care, out of like the child welfare
and juvenile justice systems. And then we also, this
past year expanded DHS SOAR to include DHS families. So families that have open cases, who are working on reunifying with kids, whom they’ve lost custody of. And a lot of times, housing and income are one of the huge barriers
to them, regaining custody. So if they’re eligible for SSI, that can be a source of income they need to get back on track and get
their family back together. And then we have a justice project working with some of
the specialized courts here in Philadelphia. The diversionary alternative
sentencing courts. We have Veteran’s SOAR and
we have a cabbie grant. So we kind of have a whole
range of offerings that way and what seems like a natural progression to move on to offering SOAR for kids and we’re really, really
excited about that, it’s something that I’ve
been asked about for years and so we are in the preliminary stages. We are discussing it with our partners. The responses have been really favorable. So far everybody’s seeing it
as an exciting opportunity and a much needed resource,
for the children and families that we’re already working with. So we’re excited to get started. We’re hoping to have a pilot
project and we have a goal set, but we don’t have anything,
kind of finalized at this point. So again, it’s preliminary,
but we’re all pretty hopeful and excited about it. And I just wanted to echo really briefly, Caroline and Suzie’s thoughts about the Children’s Leadership Academy because it was really
an amazing experience. I felt like I learned so much
and I really, really enjoyed hearing from people from
all around the country and just getting an idea of all the things that are happening and it was kind of a,
I felt rejuvenated also and more inspired, kind
of it’s nice to step back and kind of see the bigger picture because I think so often
we’re or at least me, I’m like in my office
doing whatever I’m doing and not really stepping
back and looking at what’s happening and keeping
in mind those larger goals. So it was really, really
edifying that way. And again, to echo everybody, the curriculum, the online
curriculum was amazing. The materials I thought were
really thorough and helpful. I would think even as someone who’s filed a certain number of claims, both kids and adults, applications and at the appeals level, have representative people, children’s claims are different and I really found that, I really believe that the SOAR Children’s
Curriculum is going to be essential to filing successful claims. And so I would encourage
everyone to do it. I think it is necessary and it is longer than I was expecting, but again, it’s just very well done and you can tell that these
guys spent a lot of time on it and it really came together beautifully. So there’s some special
challenges with kids that I think that course
is really going to help anyone who’s moving on
to provide SOAR for kids. Okay, so that’s that. So now we’re going to just
tell a couple stories, and try to choose stories
that were a little different in their circumstances. So I’m going to start with Janey. This was a case that was
at the application level. So she was three years old,
diagnosed with autism and ADHD and she has done some really severe emotional and behavioral issues. Her parents, it was an intact family. Her parents came to
one of my legal clinics out in the community ’cause
they were looking for help ’cause they really were kind
of not knowing what to do. They had moved to
Philadelphia from Puerto Rico because as Janey was getting older, they couldn’t get the services
that they needed for her. She was kicked out of preschool. I think they lost the
apartment they were living in because she was kind of destructive and hard to manage in the home. So they came to Philadelphia
and pretty quickly, the same thing started happening. They stayed with family,
but then a short time later, they were asked to leave that house because she had become aggressive towards some of the other kids. So by the time I met them,
they were the intact family was intact no longer. The mom was living in a
small, really rented room. A small rented room in kind of a not the best
part of town with Janey. The dad was in a homeless shelter. He was working part time and helping, trying to pay for that room. There were no family beds available so they were forced to separate. And the mom was having a lot
trouble getting anything done because Janie was really struggling. So she did access to
services that she needed. So that was one thing. But by the time I met
them, they were like, overwhelmed by the paperwork, not sure where they were in the process, didn’t know what to do next. So I kind of approached it
as I would have a SOAR claim. Actually, we made sure that we got all updated evaluations if
she didn’t have them already. We got input from her teachers
and from other providers and from the parents, doing
some like parent questionnaires and teacher questionnaires. We also, I was able to, once we figured out who the
adjudicator was in the case, had regular contact with her
so that we could get an idea of like what she needed to make that case and to let her know, to just
to keep up with everything because the mother was
really at that point, overwhelmed and kind of lost. So when it was an opportunity, like anytime you can
talk to the adjudicator is an opportunity to advocate. So, we kept that communication going and the outcome in that
case was that within 53 days we got a favorable decision. And so a short time later, mom and dad were able to secure
a small apartment somewhere. So they got to move in back together and the family stability was increased dramatically at that point. So they’re out of shelter,
they’re back together and Janey continued to get
those services that she needed and hopefully, things had kind
of calmed down after that. So that was a pretty good outcome. It might’ve been even faster. I was thinking if we had had
like dedicated SOAR workers, if we had been involved way, way early, but in all that was pretty good. Now Julian was kind of a
different kind of story. Julian’s case, the claim was at a
completely different stage. So this is a claim that came to HAP when it was already at the hearing level. So that means his mother
had already applied and then denied and then they
came to a HAP legal clinic where one of our volunteer
regular pro bono attorneys agreed to represent them at a hearing. But this is an example of how like a traditional SSI application could move through the claims process, assuming that a lot of them, as Kristin said earlier, are denied. And you know, people are
forced to file appeals. So it kind of shows how
stressful and onerous and lengthy the process can be and just it illustrates how SOAR could really benefit everyone. This is still a success, I promise. I’m making it sound
like it was a disaster. In one sense, I think you’ll
see why it kind of was, but in the end, it worked out. The problem is that it just
took a really long time. So Julian was born in January of 2015 and by May, he was diagnosed
he had a birth defect. Something with his bones and
his skull prematurely fused or like closed so that his brain could not fully grow and develop, which caused obviously cognitive issues, developmental delays, not to mention that he had to keep having
surgeries to kind of open it up so that his brain could grow. So he had that, and so by
about a year after that, his mother does notice that he’s really starting to fall behind. He had a twin, so she sees that he’s really not progressing
as his identical twin is. And so it’s May of 2016, she
files initial SSI application. He’s about 16 months old I think then. So they wait around for about nine months and they get denied. No surprise, I guess but then she appeals. So by the time the HAP
attorney meets the family, they’re in shelter, the
mom, Julian, his twin, and a younger sibling and they are, I guess Julian at that point is about two. So they wait, the attorneys secured and they start working on the case. Now, they wait another 18
months to get to the hearing. So by now, Julian’s three and a half and it’s September of last year of 2018. And so they have a hearing
and yay, like they win. They get a fully favorable decision. The onset date that the
adjudicator comes up with is the date of the initial application way back to May of 2016. So it’s like, wow, that’s great. Like back benefits. We asked there’ll be about $21,000. So it seems like great
outcome, but really not, except the mother and the
children were in shelter at that point for about two years which is causing lots of
family disruption, obviously. Not to mention emotional
stress, financial stressors. The mother has three
small kids in one room in a family shelter and Julian does have some significant medical
and behavioral issues. And during that time, he
had about five surgeries. So it’s like not ideal at all and they were in shelter all that time when they might’ve moved on much sooner. So like we kind of looked
at that and we thought, this is great, this is a lot of money. This is a game changer. But like what went wrong earlier? So it’s hard to say. It might be that maybe the
documentation there was was not all submitted,
because we know it existed because the adjudicator
found there is evidence, there was evidence to support a finding that the child had been
disabled at that point when he was way back when
he was like one and a half. So it wasn’t that he didn’t have treatment or documentation to support that. I think it might’ve been
the records on their face did not paint the picture of the child and they didn’t get us a
sense of the whole child and she didn’t see the initial review or just did not see the
severity of Julian’s condition. So as the SOAR process could have done and would have done at
the application stage. So I think the takeaways
from that are that, there’s clear benefits for our clients and for social security and for DDS through SOAR for Children. For families, I mean it’s going
to be a SOAR trained person who can provide support
through the whole process, can advocate for them and
can provide information. I get calls, I’m not kidding, every day, from just random people
in the community saying, I went to social security. I think maybe I have an
application, maybe I don’t. People have no idea a lot
of times of what’s going on which is a problem, but
they’ll have a person to help them through all that. It’ll be an expedited processing times and more favorable outcomes which we’ve seen with Adult’s SOAR. And for social security
for DDS, I also see, I mean, they’ll have more complete claims, better documentation up front. They’ll have access to the
claimant’s when they need them. That’s one thing that I
hear from my contacts now. Like, oh, we want you to do kids SOAR because it’s really hard
to connect with people, with parents, we can’t find what we need. Everything takes so long. It’ll be much easier and
faster processing for them, for the adjudicators. And then, a decreased number of hearings. So fewer people will have to go through the stress of a hearing. There won’t be as big of a backlog. Wait times will be
decreased for those people who really need to have a hearing. So it seems like a win win on all sides. Advantages for everyone
because then in the end, we know establishing that income source is ultimately going to lead
to increased stabilization and recovery for that family. So those are two recent stories and I think that’s all I have. – [Pam] Thanks Laura
and thanks for sharing. Ending our presentations
with two success stories on how SSI benefits can
again, not only reunify (mumbles) but also to stable founding and that resiliency that we talk about. So then, thank you for that and we know that we are now
ready for questions Q&A. So ask your questions, type
your question into the Q&A box that you’ll see on the right
hand side of your screen and we will answer some of those questions and understand that this webinar today is to provide an introduction
to the new edition of the SOAR Online
Curriculum for Children. And our plans for in the future will be to hold other webinars that will get more into the nuts and bolts of completing quality
successful applications for children SSI applicants. But again, please feel free
to type in your questions. We had a few that have come in already. So I think this one I’ll pose to Kristin. and then others can chime in too. This was from a local lead, Christopher who says I’m about to conduct
a cohort for the adult course where most of the caseworkers are children and youth caseworkers. Can, should I introduce the child course or how would I approach that? Kristin, do you want to take
a shot at that question? – [Kristin] Sure, absolutely. Thanks Pam. And thanks Chris for the question. So I would say absolutely yes. So if these case caseworkers
are going to be working with individuals who
are under the age of 18, that they absolutely should take the SOAR online course child curriculum so they can learn how to assist with an SSI application for child and understand the eligibility
criteria for children. So that would be really valuable for them to take the child curriculum. And I know you are a SOAR local lead. You can access that SOAR leaders
only section of the website and we have course
cohort material on there that you could use to help support those trainees through the course. And if you reach out to Abby,
your SOAR TA Center liaison, she can also help answer your questions as you kind of help
them through the course. – [Pam] Thank you. And we do have questions that are cut from other local leads, who were again, unable to attend the Leadership Academy. So Kristin mentioned
where you as local leads can access all of the information about doing a SOAR orientation, doing an online course cohort training and an online course review. So again, we have documents
that are applicable to both adult and child,
and have updated some forms and documents just for children. So those are great questions. So you can access
everything that the folks at the Leadership Academy
for Children received in that spot. Well, we have an– – [Kristin] Pam, sorry to interrupt. Since we’re on the topic of resources, I wanted to pull up just
a couple of resources that we have on our website to make sure people are aware
of them and can use them. So if Suzie, if you can help me with the technical part of that. We have, from my course, a child
curriculum marketing flyer, which you can use to
promote the curriculum with stakeholders in your community. Just has an overview,
some basic information and the link to our online course catalog. So that’s something that
you can share far and wide. And so you can download
this both from within WebEx or if it’s easier, you can get it straight from the SOAR website where Pam explained where to find all the webinar materials from today’s webinar. We’ve got the links to these
documents there as well. And as Suzie put it in the chat box so you can just follow
that link in the chat box to download it. And then then next resource
I wanted to point out is an overview of our
child and youth resources that the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center has and it just has a bunch
of helpful links on it. So links to the child curriculum,
some of our issue brief, past webinars on SOAR
with transition age youth and some fact sheets and some other kind of
helpful information. So that’s kind of a summary document of the resources we have
available for children and youth. And then there was one final resource. I somehow like miss the
slide in my presentation and I wanted to make
sure you all had a handy these links to access your local contacts where the systems of care
for family run organizations and youth move national. So they all have kind of local
contacts on their websites where you can get in touch. So if you’re looking for
like your local counterparts, you can find them and that
will get posted momentarily. And so while we work on getting
those links up and visible, Pam, we could move to the next question. Thanks for bearing with me
through those resources. – [Pam] Great Kristin, very helpful that folks have access
already to some resources to get you started and to figure out who are your child serving
agencies in your area that you want to reach out. We had a question about,
I know my school district has a homeless coordinator. Well, is that a person that
I should contact about SOAR? – Who would like to take that question, the homeless coordinator
in their school district? – [Laura] Hi, this is Laura. I’m not sure if I understand the question. Is the question that the homeless liaison would be a person who would file claims or who would just need to be aware that the service is available or what? – [Pam] Yeah it sounds like to be aware of the services
possibly for referrals. – [Laura] Yeah, I think so. I mean.
– Yeah. – Go ahead.
– No, you go ahead. – Sorry.
– Okay. (mumbles) Yeah, I think the homeless liaison, I mean that’s a wonderful resource and a person that I
think the more they know, and the more familiar they
are with what’s out there, I mean the better for everyone and they’re on the front lines and they’re going to come across views that we might have trouble identifying. So I definitely think the
more information they have about all services is really helpful. And even if they just know who to contact, even if they have questions
and want to run something by whoever that that person would be, but yeah, I would definitely
get them in the loop. Suzie, did you want to add
on to Laura’s thoughts? – [Suzie] No, just that that’s
an excellent place to start. I think that that is one
area that we’re moving into and just so they are aware
of what we may be doing and helping in whatever way they can. – [Pam] Great. Yeah, and it’s one of
the resources we have at the SOAR TA Center is
what we call a matrix, which is available to the local leads that does have as a category
homeless coordinators to reach out to. So I think that would be a great start to introduce the SOAR to
the folks in that position. We have a comment actually
from one of our state leads in Pennsylvania just to comment on something that she has
done consistently on. Michelle writes, I’ve been promoting SOAR as a do it right the
first time methodology to dispel the shortcut image. So thanks Michelle for that because again, we do reiterate and we do like to share that spending time on the front end often pays off in the long ride with a successful application,
a quality application. So thanks for that Michele,
for sharing that as well. We have a question about, let’s see. A good one. This is one is for Caroline, I do believe. It’s about and it’s something
that you are I think thinking of implementing SOAR because Caroline being in Maryland has a state certification process. Have you given much
thought to an expectation for individuals who do take the, who are adult trained
and have a requirement to submit a certain amount of cases? Have you thought about that for children, children’s certification? Have you thought anything
about the amount of cases that you may have as an expectation or is this too preliminary
to discuss right now? – [Caroline] We’ve
definitely thought about it and really we would see
it being the same process. One thing we really want to do is try and use the lessons learned and the expertise that’s been developed and wherever possible mirror the two so like we said, they’re not
these two separate things. And so, for our certification process, people have had to have
done five SOAR claims, at least four of which have been approved. And so absolutely, I would
see it being the same for those doing children’s cases and one thing I haven’t thought through, but I can’t see why if
somebody was trained in both, if they were working perhaps with that transitional
age youth population. So some might be technically
children and some adults, why they couldn’t make the match because again, we’re really looking at the quality of the applications
and particularly the MSR. So we may be able to have three of one but that’s something that I haven’t yet thought through fully,
but definitely would see having the same process and
the same information provided. – [Pam] Okay, well thanks for that. We have a question that
came in about interviewing and I think this could be something for Laura to take a shot at. How much interaction is
typical interviewing children? Do you want to talk about your experience, ’cause I think that could
be one of the differences where we’re used to interviewing the adult for the adult application. Are you interviewing the children? Are you interviewing parent
or caregiver or both? – [Laura] Probably both. And maybe not so much interviewing as… Well a lot depends on
the age cause you figure from birth to 18 is a wide range. Now, most of the children’s
cases that I’ve had especially recently have
been on the younger side. So they’ve been between like
three and five years old. So a lot of times the
mother or the parent, will bring them in and
and so I’d have a chance to interact with them ’cause
they’re kind of like playing. We have some toys and things. There’s a chance to observe and to kind of interact a little. There’s not always a lot
that they’re able to tell me when they’re three about what’s going on. It’s more kind of like
what you could observe that parents and the teachers
and the other caregivers are able to provide kind of more detailed
anecdotal daily things that they face with the child. So I guess it would be
a little bit of both. But then I’ve had people,
I’ve had youth that I met like on their 18th birthday. This was before we were even
thinking about Children’s SOAR. So I’d wait. They would contact me when
they’re 17 and then they’re 18. So that’s a different kind of interaction because they’re obviously able, depending on how much insight they have, able to share things about their history or about what they’re struggling with and kind of what’s going on with them more than maybe a toddler would. So, I don’t know if this is a good answer, but I would say the
more time you can spend talking to people who know the child, no matter what their age is well, and then the more that you
see and just even observe and interact to the best of
their ability, the better just because then you
can paint the picture. I hope that helps. – [Pam] I think that’s really helpful and to close the online course, we do have articles on
engagement and interviewing. And again, paying attention to the developmental age of the child. And again, certain engagement strategies. You had mentioned having toys if you’re going to be
mostly talking to the parent or caregiver, but you’re also
observing the child’s play and how they’re interacting with you too. So, it’s really gonna be dependent. So we provide, also with our
adapted MSR interview guide, for filing child FSI claims, we do again address
these types of questions and interviewing, situations
that you might be in better that varies a little bit. But thanks for that and for
sharing your experience. We have a question too here. If children and their families are housed through permanent
supportive housing programs, are they eligible for SOAR application? Our program starts people
who were chronically homeless and it sounds like they’re in a permanent supportive housing situation as well. Kristin, would you like to take that one? – [Kristin] Sure. Thanks Pam. Great question and absolutely. So SOAR is intended for individuals who are experiencing or
at risk of homelessness. And if someone is in a permanent
supportive housing program and has no income, there are definitely at risk of homelessness if they were to lose that housing voucher. And so we want to help people
obtain stable income they need to keep their housing
stable and reduce that risk. – [Pam] Okay, great. Thank you. And there was another question
along those same lines. Does as a child have to
be literally homeless in order to be a SOAR eligible? So I think that goes along
the lines of on that as well. It’s homeless or at risk of homelessness. And we do provide a handout
related to the definition of homelessness as well on the website in the online course. So we would direct you to that as well because that’s not going to be different really for children. A question about if the
child is in foster care, are they eligible to apply for SSI? And I guess I’ll direct
that I don’t know to Laura and anyone else who
would like to take that. If you are youth residing
in a foster home, are you eligible for SSI? – [Laura] Great. Well, I don’t think typically because they’re getting,
and I’m going to mess it up, as it Title 4E. There’s a certain kind of funding that they are probably being provided if they’re adjudicated dependent. But that said, I have come
across a couple of cases where there are youth and I mean a couple and they seem to be getting SSI even though they are in foster care and I’m not sure how that works. But in general, a large
part of the DHS SOAR Project that I mentioned, I’m applying for kids that are in foster care
and who are not eligible based on their resources. But we’re applying like
shortly before their discharge, at which time they
won’t have the resources and then they are eligible for SSI. So it’s my understanding, and again, it’s not my area of expertise, about the kind of funding that
they provide for foster kids but it’s my understanding that
know that whatever they get through, the Department of Human Services or wherever it’s coming
from, would be their resource and they could not also get SSI. – [Pam] Kristin, did you
want to also comment on that? – [Laura] Maybe Kristin or somebody else might know differently. – [Kristin] I was just
going to comment that question is so much more, and Laura, I don’t think you’re incorrect. I think it just depends
that there are certain cases where depending on what type of funding a child is receiving,
what type of institution or care they are in an under that each circumstance is really unique. And so our best advice to SOAR providers and people out there is talk
to your local FSA office about the specific scenario and
they can help you figure out whether the child may be eligible based on their unique circumstances. – [Pam] That’s really great. And we do a dress on
foster care placements in the online course too. So you’ll find some
information there as well because we know we will
be serving children who are in foster care and
it may depend on the state and again, other ways that
the child is being funded in that foster care situation. We do have another question
and this will be our last one and it does highlight the need to enroll and take the online course because you’ll find the answer here. But it’s along the lines
of how can we have children sign legal documents in
regard to the SOAR process. And I might throw that out to Kristin to share her thoughts on that. I don’t know Kristin, if you heard. that question about the children signing legal documents in
regard to the SOAR process and it is one of those
application types of questions. – [Kristin] Yeah, got you. I mean, so it depends on the
circumstances of the child. So whether or not the child
is an unaccompanied youth, if it is a pregnant child or youth, whether or not they
sign their own documents on their own behalf or if it is a child living with a parent or caregiver
who would sign for them. And so we definitely,
like Pam has mentioned, the SOAR online course has
a lot of great information that kind of detailed out those specifics about who signs the forms. And there are even more
like state specific details about whether a child at a certain age signs their own authorization form for medical records, all of that. So there are lots of
exceptions in the child world in terms of who signs what. – [Pam] Thanks Kristin. Yes and the course does talk
about this issue as well because we know in many
of the circumstances, it will be the parent or caregiver signing for the child, but in some cases, it could be the youth on
signing the forms too. So I encourage you to take
a look at the online course for that information and
we are running out of time. So if we didn’t get your question, we will definitely get those
answered offline, for you too. Some are pretty specific
and in some cases, we can direct you to
some additional resources and maybe we’ll need to get
some more information from you. So it just want to take this moment to thank all of our presenters today for sharing your early experiences with embarking on growing SOAR in your states and communities. And thank you again. So, I would just like to thank
everyone for taking the time to learn about SOAR for Children and encourage you to take
the next step with enrolling, taking a look at the course. So keep your eyes out
for our next webinar. What should be on the topic of Getting Started with Completing
SOAR Assisted Application to be held on a date in April. So look for some registration
details coming soon. So I just want to thank everyone and have a great rest of your day. Thanks again for joining us. Bye bye.

Author: Kevin Mason

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