This is a general guide for users of the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) which utilizes ServicePoint. This guide will help you understand the high-level functions of HMIS. Every agency has a different workflow and setting specific to their project and funding. This guide is meant to be an overview of how users generally interact with and understand the system.
Step by step guides and guides specific to your projects can be found on the All Chicago Help Desk (HMIS.TheChicagoAlliance.org).
- What is HMIS?
- Who is All Chicago?
- What does All Chicago do for users?
- Terminology and Logic of ServicePoint
- Types of Users
- Navigating Client Records
- Locked/Locking Client Records
- Client Data Sharing
- Client Data Entry Timeline
- Data Entry Workflow Checklist
What is HMIS?
HMIS is an electronic database used to hold information on the characteristics and service needs of persons experiencing homelessness in the City of Chicago. Various funders require projects to record data in the HMIS database. To stay competitive for funding, Chicago must improve our data collection efforts and use of data in local planning processes.
Who is All Chicago?
All Chicago is the City of Chicago’s Lead HMIS Agency. We manage the ServicePoint database which agencies utilize for their day to day work. As the HMIS Lead Agency, we support more than 900 individual users at 89 partner agencies with training, reports and Helpdesk services. Also, we are responsible for administering the day-to-day operational functions of HMIS, the development of local policies and procedures and monitoring compliance with HMIS standards and data quality.
What does All Chicago do for users?
While you can get most of your work done in HMIS without our assistance, there are still a few things you need to contact us for, which you can do by emailing HMIS@AllChicago.org or submitting a Help Desk ticket at https://hmis.allchicago.org/hc/en-us/requests/new.
What you can do:
What we do for you:
Asking for Assistance
If you need to contact us, you can submit a ticket for help at https://hmis.allchicago.org/hc/en-us/requests/new or email us at HMIS@allchicago.org. You can also give us a call at 773-669-4238. Below are some guidelines so we can best assist you.
Terminology and Logic of ServicePoint
ServicePoint has three levels of organization. The HMIS Lead Agency, which for the City of Chicago is All Chicago.
In HMIS, any client you serve will be enrolled at the project level, not the agency level.
When you enroll a client, the “Provider” type will look like this “Agency - Project”.
Types of Users
All agency users will be able to do data entry and run most reports, but not all accounts will have the same access to an agency’s information. Here are the most used user types in HMIS starting with those that have the most access:
- Agency Technical Administrator (ATA)
- The point person for your agency. ATAs are designated to be the first person that can assist their own agency’s users. Reporting and ensuring data quality is part of their responsibilities. They can see information on all their agency’s projects.
- Case Manager III
- Case Managers can run reports, create and edit client records. Case Manager III’s have access to see all of their agency’s projects.
- Case Manager II & I
- Same as Case Manager III, except they cannot see all their agency’s projects, only ones assigned to them.
|User roles can be found in the top right corner of the page. In these same areas, users can change their settings.|
Ultimately, the clients we serve are the reason this system exists. Our goal is to keep information confidential and accurate. HMIS is not a bucket for simply holding data, but rather a tool to assist clients in connecting to the resources they sorely need.
Clients may or may not already have a record in HMIS, additionally, clients may be co-enrolled in multiple projects and services outside of your own.
Searching for Clients
When you create a client, it is imperative that you search for the client to the best of your ability before creating a record for them. If you create a record for a client that already exists in the system, this is called a duplicate record and can cause more issues down the line for your organization and the system as a whole.
When searching, keep these rules in mind:
- Do not check off “Exact Match” unless it is a client you already know exists in HMIS
- Attempt multiple variations of the clients name
- For example, Joseph Schmoe may be listed in the system as Joe, Joey, etc.
- If the client’s name is relatively common, try to match the client by their age and the last four digits of the social security number
Navigating Client Records
When you enter a client’s record, all the information is broken down into sections by tabs. The top-level tabs - “Client Information” and “Service Transaction” will show different tabs below them.
The tab you are currently in will be bold and underlined in green, but you can still click on the other tabs. It is best practice to enter data from the tab that relates to the data you are creating. It is not recommended to create data from the Summary tab. This tab is typically for reference only and there are more options available within the other tabs that are not visible from Summary.
Locked/Locking Client Records
Every client has the right to decide whether their record is shared with other agencies outside of your own. The Client Consent form for Data Sharing walks a client through making this decision. In ServicePoint, the padlock symbol in the upper right corner of the client’s record indicates whether or not it is currently being shared.
|Green padlock indicates record is shared with other partner agencies||Red padlock indicates record is NOT shared with other partner agencies|
Adjusting the Visibility
If a client wants to restrict the sharing of their record, then you will need to complete these steps:
- Document that client’s level of consent in the Release of Information (ROI) tab
- Adjust the client’s visibility settings
|To change the visibility, click on the padlock. When you do that, the Client Visibility window will appear, from there you will click on the red circle with the minus sign to take away data sharing. After doing so, you will click ‘Exit’.|
Client Data Sharing
|Users document the client’s preferences for data sharing in the Release of Information (ROI) tab in HMIS (with the exclusion of skilled assessors).
The ROIs are documenting the Client Consent and Supplemental form. Your client’s decision to share their data is located on the bottom half of page 2.
To fully document your client’s data sharing wishes, you will be creating up to three separate ROIs in HMIS.
- Consent for Data Sharing (A, B, C)
- Supplemental Disability Consent
For more instructions on documentation, you can refer to this guide.
Client Data Entry Timeline
* You may want to adapt our universal intake form for your own agency’s needs
** There are at least two ROI records you have to document—the consent for data sharing (part II), supplemental consent, and part III
*** Sub-assessment fields are monthly income, non-cash benefits, health insurance, disabilities, and outreach contacts
Assessments are how HMIS collects your client’s information. The client’s historical record is tracked through the various assessments you complete.
It is different for every project, but most agencies will need to go through this workflow:
- Entry→ Interim/Updates → Exit.
Each of those steps require you to also complete sub-assessments as well.
Each Entry, Interim and Exit assessment will have a sub-assessment portion. Before diving into Entries, Interims, and Exits, we will need to cover sub-assessments.
Sub-assessments are where the client’s story plays out over time. In each sub-assessment, you will find the entire history of your client as it relates to the sub-assessment particular subject.
- Monthly Income
- Non-Cash Benefits
- Health Insurance
- Outreach Contacts
- Every sub- assessment begins with a yes/no question regarding whether or not the sub-assessment topic is relevant to the client.
- Each sub- assessment must have the HUD Verification complete (indicated by a green checkmark). Each sub-assessment HUD Verification determines what your client has and does not have.
- The magnifying glass allows you to view the client’s history with more detail. Also, you can sort the information.
Using the Monthly Income sub- assessment as an example, when you click “HUD Verification”, you will see a listing of income sources that your client may have. You must indicate which they do and do not have (which can easily be done by clicking the blue options at the top).
Each source of income must have an answer.
This same logic applies to every other sub-assessment excluding the Outreach Contacts.
Entries are the snapshot of your client’s situation as they enter your agency’s project. All future data will be looking at the entry assessment as a point of comparison.
There are a few questions in the Entry Assessment that will not be listed in the Interim or Exit assessments.
This information includes the head of household relation, date of birth, race/ethnicity, gender, and client’s current domestic violence situation.
Most of this information does not change over time, so it only exists on the entry.
Once you complete an entry assessment, you will see information throughout your client’s record begin to populate. On the Summary and Client Profile tabs, you will see information regarding your client’s demographics fill in after completing an entry assessment.
Interim assessments allow you to track updates regarding your client’s situation. The frequency of your interim assessments depends on your project type. Some projects have to do annual assessments or monthly updates.
To create an interim assessment, you go to the Entry/Exit tab and click the icon in the Interims column. From there, you can add an Interim Review.
The Exit assessment is meant to track the latest information available on your client when they leave your projects. Whether they completed an exit interview or simply left without warning, any information you have on the client that has changed since your last entry or interim assessment will be put in here.
|To create an exit assessment, go to the Entry/Exit tab and click the pencil icon next to the Exit Date column for whatever project you are exiting the client from.
Once there, a screen like the image to the left will appear. This is where you indicate where your client may have gone. After this screen, it will take you to an exit assessment (including sub-assessments).
Data Entry Workflow Checklist
Search for client
If the client record exists, continue with selected client(s)
If no current profile, create a record
Add Household, NOT ‘Only Client’
Add additional members if not single
Indicate relationships of household members
Designate HoH ‘Only Client’
Document Supplemental Consent
Document consent to share info with other CoCs
Select (or confirm) the correct project and type
Add Entry for all members of household
Complete all sub- assessments
Complete all HUD Verifications
Add Interim assessment to existing Entry record
Add Housing Move-In Date if the client was housed after entry
Update relevant sub- assessments
Add Interim assessments per your program requirements
Add Case Notes (Optional)
Assign Case Manager
Create Goal in Case Plans tab
Add Case Notes as necessary to Goal
Service Transactions (Optional)
If required, add Interim update assessment
Update need status to ‘Closed and Met’
* Certain programs are required to use this (ie. SSVF, RRH, PATH, RHY)
Where is the client going?
Update sub- assessments, as needed
|AIRS||Alliance of Information and Referral Systems||HUD||Housing and Urban Development|
|AHAR||Annual Homeless Assessment Report||NOFA||Notice of Funding Availability PIT - Point in Time|
|APR||Annual Performance Report||NP||Non-Participating (Agency is listed as not using ServicePoint or no longer in operation)|
|ATA||Agency Technical Administrator||PATH||Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness|
|CAPER||Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report||PPI||Personal Protected Information|
|CES||Coordinated Entry System||PSH||Permanent Supportive Housing|
|CDBG||Community Development Block Grant CoC - Continuum of Care||RHY||Runaway and Homeless Youth|
|CH||Chronically Homeless||ROI||Release of Information|
|CoC||Continuum of Care||RRH||Rapid Re-Housing|
|DOB||Date of Birth||SH||Safe Haven|
|DQSC||Data Quality Sub-Committee||SHP||Supportive Housing Program|
|DV||Domestic Violence||SRO||Single Room Occupancy|
|ES||Emergency Shelter||SSI||Supplemental Security Income|
|ESG||Emergency Solutions Grant||SSN||Social Security Numbe|
|EVHI||Ending Veteran Homelessness Initiative||SSO||Supportive Services Only|
|HIPAA||Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996||SSVF||Supportive Services for Veteran Families|
|HMIS||Homeless Management Information System||UDE||Universal Data Element|
|HoH||Head of Household||TANF||Temporary Assistance for Needy Families|
|HOPWA||Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS||TFA||Temporary Financial Assistance|
|HPCC||Homeless Prevention Call Center||VASH||Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing|