Triage Phone Specialist (92 views)

Boston, MA
October 28, 2020 2020-12-27
Job Description

SCHEDULE: TBD, may include early mornings, nights and/or weekend hours


The Triage Phone Specialist will engage individual and community referral callers for new shelter referrals, in a triage assessment process which is designed to determine a guest’s immediate level of need and assertively moves the guest to safe housing. The Triage Phone Specialist will be the first point of contact for individuals seeking shelter placements, and will escalate calls requiring a more in-depth or in-person assessment to Triage clinicians or team supervisors.  

The Triage Phone Specialist will also be the first point of contact for community service providers seeking to refer individuals to emergency shelter. During their calls with community referral sources, the Triage Phone Specialist will work to encourage these resources to coordinate care plans which do not rely on emergency shelter when other more appropriate medical and behavioral health services should be explored and utilized, and will provide information regarding those alternative services to callers. 

On an as-needed basis, the Triage Phone Specialist will assist with or themselves conduct in-person intake assessments of individuals seeking shelter. 

The Triage Phone Specialist will work within a best practice framework of Harm Reduction, Motivational Interviewing and Trauma-Informed Care and, whenever possible, will provide support toward family reunification and mitigating barriers to securing alternative options for safe housing.

If diversion is not possible or appropriate, the Triage Phone Specialist will conduct an initial guest intake and refer the guest for further assessment by another Triage team member. The Triage Phone Specialist will frame all requests for shelter in the context of ensuring a limited stay in emergency shelter, and establishing the foundation for the guest’s work towards a more permanent housing solution – this will include triage housing placement within the first 30 days of Shelter.

The Triage Phone Specialist will provide exceptional customer service both internally and externally and will work in partnership with case management teams to provide integrated service delivery which furthers our mission to eliminate homelessness. The Triage PHone Specialist will work under tight timeframes for accurately entering guest information into Pine Street Inn’s approved Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). Attention to detail and accuracy is critical in this position.  

The Triage Phone Specialist will work from the following principles:  Shelter is a temporary safety net, not a home. The Housing Placement Team must assertively motivate guests and incentivize them to seek better alternatives using best practices.

  • All people experiencing homelessness, regardless of their housing history and duration of homelessness, can achieve housing stability in permanent housing.
  • Never warehouse or institutionalize our guests in our shelters.
  • Everyone is “housing ready.” Sobriety, compliance in treatment, or even a clean criminal history is not necessary to succeed in housing. Rather, homelessness programs and housing providers must be “consumer ready”.
  • Leverage guests’ strengths, assets, and connections to move quickly out of shelters and to any other housing.
  • Recognize the impact of violence and victimization on development and coping strategies. 
  • Employ an empowerment model. 
  • Maximize guest choices and control over her/his recovery based in a relational collaboration. 
  • Create an atmosphere that is respectful of the guests’ need for safety, respect, and acceptance. 
  • Emphasize the guests’ strengths, highlighting adaptations over symptoms and resilience over pathology.  
  • Minimize the possibilities of re-traumatization. 
  • Strive to be culturally competent and to understand each person in the context of his or her life experiences and cultural background. 
  • Solicit guest input and involve guests in designing and evaluating services.


  • Associate’s degree in a human services related field; Or High School Diploma with a minimum of two (2) years of equivalent experience in a social service setting
  • Valid Massachusetts Driver’s License
  • Strong computer and math skills, including familiarity with MS Word, Excel and ability to learn and successfully use MIS & HMIS programs
  • Minimum of two (2) years’ experience delivering services to a challenged population often struggling with addiction and untreated or under-treated mental health concerns
  • Working knowledge of local resources available to Boston’s homeless population
  • Working Knowledge of Housing First and Rapid Rehousing
  • Knowledge of the issues related to homelessness
  • Excellent listening and speaking skills
  • Excellent telephone customer service skills
  • Excellent ability to re-direct callers to appropriate resources, and to tailor verbal communication to the needs and ability of the caller
  • Strong multi-tasking and note-taking skills for post-call follow up and documentation
  • Strong written communication skills
  • Ability to stand for moderate periods of time
  • Ability to hear and speak while using a telephone for the majority of a workday
  • Ability to use a telephone, laptop, tablet, or other mobile communications device for the majority of the workday
  • Ability to stretch, bend, lift and assist guests up and down stairs during difficult and/or emergency situations.
  • Ability to respond safely and quickly in case of emergency situations
  • Ability to sit for significant periods of time at a desk in an office while using the telephone, interacting with clients and/or managing documentation and completing data entry
  • Must be able to drive a PSI vehicle for work use
  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • Excellent writing, documentation, math and computer skills
  • Ability to assess clients and make appropriate referrals
  • Ability to establish good working relationships with internal and external program staff
  • Strong decision-making, leadership ability and communication skills
  • Exceptional telephone customer service
  • Ability to perform an array of difficult tasks at the same time
  • Patience in working with guests with untreated emotional/physical health needs and active substance use/abuse/dependency behaviors
  • Ability to work in intense, emotionally charged situations
  • Ability to help provide critical incident de-briefing


  • Certification, training, or formal education in counseling and/or case management
  • Bi-lingual – Spanish/English
  • Practical experience in client assessment, diversion, mediation, negotiation, Motivational Interviewing, Trauma- informed Care, Crisis Prevention and Intervention, household budgeting, and service planning, recovery services – including mental health, substance use/abuse and traumatic brain injury

Minimum of two (2) years’ experience in a triage or intake position


  • Perform client phone triage assessment and Touchpoints.
  • Perform phone triage assessment with referring social service and health care providers. 
  • Escalate calls for more detailed assessment or emergency management where needed to assure individual or referring provider callers are being triaged at the appropriate level of need and expertise 
  • Divert individuals over the phone to housing situations which are better than emergency shelter, to include family reunification and mediation. 
  • Identify guests who would benefit from Rapid Re-Housing. 
  • Meet or exceed established program goals for diversions, triage assessments, triage placements and upstream follow up with hospitals and other community providers as needed. 
  • As needed, develop and provide newly homeless and chronically homeless guests with detailed orientation to shelter services and housing placement opportunities as well as program timelines and limitations. 
    As needed, input guest intakes and other pertinent service information in the HMIS system.
  • Complete all documentation in support of client/caller intakes and referrals, and consult with supervisor, clinician, or other program leadership as needed to ensure thorough and timely follow up. 
  • Maintain thorough knowledge of human/social services opportunities available in the community, establish and maintain necessary contacts to reduce inappropriate referrals and discharges. 
  • Successfully connect guests with mainstream benefits, community-based supports and resources. 
  • Perform other additional assignments or projects as requested/directed by supervisor.