Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Minutes – 4/5/17

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Meeting
April 5, 2017

In attendance: Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Dawn Distefano, Square One, Madeline Martinez, Way Finders, Maegan Pedemonti, Way Finders, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Progress Report:  Click here. There were 4 additional placements last month, one with a wage of $18/hour, bringing the average wage over $13/hour.

The success story this time featured the collaboration with Aaron’s Furniture which now always seeks out Way Finders program participants when there are job openings, including putting a special link on their website specifically addressed to Way Finders participants (see: https://jobs-seiaarons.icims.com/jobs/2003/hap-program-participants/job?mobile=false&width=965&height=500&bga=true&needsRedirect=false&jan1offset=-300&jun1offset=-240)

We discussed the possibility of the Advisory Committee hosting an “employer appreciation” event to draw attention to this and other similar practices. We will discuss this further at our next meeting. We noted that we could do a smaller version of the previous SJ events at HCC, presumably for Hampden County only, but that would afford participants on all levels to pause and appreciate the impact of their efforts.

Legislative Meetings Update

Pamela reviewed the series of meetings with legislators – 10 legislators met with thus far – Senator Lesser, Rep. Vega, Rep.Gonzalez, Rep. Tosado, Rep.Williams, Rep. Velis, Rep. Mark, Rep. Farley-Bouvier, and on Friday will be meeting with Senator Rosenberg, Rep. Kulik, Rep. Kocot and Rep. Scibak. Meetings are in the works for Senator Hinds, Senator Humason and Senator Welch.

Secure Jobs has been discussed at all the meetings; Ashley has attended and presented at most and the data demonstrating impact is very well received.

At the meeting with Rep. Farley Bouvier in Pittsfield, the Representative expressed concern about the lack of SJ resources going to the Berkshires. At the meeting, we explained about the funding cuts statewide that had a direct impact on funding in our region. After this meeting, Ken Demers of BerkshireWorks and Brad Gordon of Berkshire Regional Housing Authority and Pamela had a conference call to review the Berkshires Secure Jobs program. Ken suggested that without a designated staff person it is virtually impossible to obtain the level of engagement necessary from the head of household to successfully participate in the program (especially because predominantly RAFT clients, so incentive to participate is that much less compelling); that a performance based contract does not deal with the staffing need. Ken also noted that the program has not yet had a full year of adequate staffing due to internal staffing challenges (the one successful 6 month period of case management by Pamela Wojtkowski saw 10 placements, i.e., with appropriate staffing, outcomes are meaningful). We agreed that depending on the funding outcome for next year, the committee would propose renewed discussion around the funding question for Berkshire and Franklin/Hampshire Counties.

Move to Work (MTW) and Learn to Earn:

The group discussed these two programs.

MTW is funded through HUD money. DHCD’s annual plan includes allocating significant MTW funds ($800m?) to Secure Jobs to attach housing vouchers to SJ participants. We will learn more about this.

Learn to Earn is a a new program proposed in the Governor’s budget that would be administered through the Commonwealth Corporation and would provide a very Secure Jobs-like model – case management plus flexible funds – but available to all unemployed and under-employed individuals. It will be interesting to see how this program unfolds.

Other items:

Bud noted that CareerPoint is attending many meetings with DTA to discuss their increased involvement in the workforce system. And WIOA is also requiring closer collaborations among a wide range of groups.

The group also discussed the Working Cities Grant which is addressing the Cliff Effect with the creation of a fund to provide assistance to offset any loss in benefits from employment. Part of the proposal includes hiring 2 additional DTA workers to provide intensive case management around these issues. We debated the pros and cons of having the workers based at DTA vs. in a community agency.

Next meeting date: Wed 6/7, 11 am – 12 noon