Iain De Jong of OrgCode–the creators of the VI-SPDAT–has written a terrific blog post about the VI-SPDAT. I highly recommend that you click through to read the post: VI-SPDAT: 14 Things That Irk Me.
Here are a few excerpts which address some issues relevant to our CoC:
Don’t have an inconsistent introductory script.
If you want reliability in using the VI-SPDAT, make sure that every person that administers the tool in your community introduces it and explains it in EXACTLY the same way. No variation.
Based on this comment, I am working on a draft introductory script for CoC review. Once we decide on language, it will be made part of our paper form and on-line VI-SPDAT entry.
Don’t use it too far up stream.
Diversion first at shelter entry. When that does not work, give people a chance to self resolve. Only when that does not work should a community dig into the VI-SPDAT. If you do the VI-SPDAT right away, you may inadvertently give up on people that may otherwise self resolve.
Understand how the questions were actually created.
Most of the questions within the tool were actually created by people experiencing homelessness. We would take the research to them in shelters, drop-ins, hygiene facilities, in the woods, etc. and we would say, “We need to ask a question about x, y or z. How would you ask yourself that question?” Then we tested it and refined it. Over and over and over and over again.
Don’t think it is a perfect tool.
The tool provides data. It does not make decisions, it informs decisions. The tool is not perfect. It will continue to evolve and improve. It is the best available tool based upon the best available evidence and testing. Continue to have an active voice in making it better.
But really, you should read the whole thing: VI-SPDAT: 14 Things That Irk Me.