Author Archives: Pamela Schwartz

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Minutes – 5/25/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee
May 25, 2017

In attendance: Courtney Godbolt, Friends of the Homeless, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Sarah Hills, Eliot CHS, John Lewis, Springfield Police/Shannon Grant, Kim Majewski, Gandara Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Jenny Mills, Youth Build, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Delphine Wray, Friends of the Homeless

Youth Count Debriefs:
The MA sponsored youth count took place over 2 weeks at the start of May.

Hampden County: Kim reported 3-4 events (boys and girls club, STCC, Dunbar, MLK) – STCC generated most contact with approx. 30 surveys. CHD organized an event at HCC which generated approx. 35 surveys.  Gerry reported over 100 surveys were completed from parenting youth residing at shelters.  This number is greater than last year (except the state has not yet released the results from last year’s surveys).  High school outreach was not particularly fruitful.  A couple of non-profit organizations complained that they felt tired of being asked to complete surveys without additional engagement.  This suggests the need for more sustained follow-up around the services that are available.

Hampshire County: Lisa reported that there were a couple of outreach events, one at ServiceNet, another in Greenfield.  She does not have outcome info as she was not directly involved in running these events. She noted that some of the youth that had interacted with ServiceNet had not been referred to DIAL/SELF, which points again to the need for sustained outreach (since it’s not just a matter of “knowing” about the resources are there but really about integrating their existence into the daily work).

Discussion of data collection and analysis as it pertains to understanding the status of the youth homelessness and the system response to it:We returned to question of what data would be useful for this committee to generate to best understand the over-arching questions:

  • how many youth are homeless?
  • how many are assessed?
  • how quickly and in what manner are they getting housed?
  • are they staying housed or returning to homelessness?

The broader goal is to determine the amount of youth homelessness and how effective our system is in responding to it and where the gaps lie.

We noted the limits of the State’s quarterly report requirements stemming from the youth grant since they are too detailed and too specific to the programs meeting their grant obligations.  The questions listed above require a combination of HMIS data and a by-name list (as successfully demonstrated by Hampden County’s coordinated entry efforts with chronic homeless and veterans; Three County has a coordinated entry retreat scheduled for 6/19). Gerry also noted the development of a new data warehouse for Hampden County that is in process that will greatly increase capacity to pull the data we are interested in.

Kim noted that Gandara Center is currently maintaining a list of youth that seek services but it is not formalized based on the questions listed above.  Gerry and Kim will meet to plan for the development of a list that is consistent with coordinated entry.  Lisa noted that DIAL/SELF’s youth workers each have a list of who they are currently working with but that is also not an overall cohesive by-name list and it also does not account for the people who are referred but do not make it into services.  This goes to the universal challenge of greater outreach and engagement services.

Another area to explore is the intersection between unaccompanied youth and parenting youth who are in the family shelter system – how do the two systems connect, e.g., an unaccompanied youth seeks services through Gandara and then later reveals having a child in the foster care system or at a relative’s home.

For next month’s meeting, we agreed that Gerry and Kim would report back on their meeting around a by-name list; Lisa would share any additional information/thoughts on reporting; we will further discuss the outreach to family providers working with parenting youth.

State Budget Update: The Senate Amendment to increase the youth funding to $4 million did not pass but the $2.5 million for youth is still in the Senate budget which is $.5 million over last year’s funding (and $1.5m over the House Budget).  Debate is still underway about language ensuring a Youth Commission.

New Youth Housing in Northampton:  Lisa announced the great news of the purchase of youth housing in Northampton.  Click here for the flyer.

Next Meeting Date: Wed., July 5, 10 am – 11:30 am, Holyoke Public Library  

 

 

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 5/16/17

Family Services Committee Minutes
May 16, 2017

In attendance:  Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Jane Banks, CHD, Shelly Benoit, BHN, Mirian Chavez, DTA-DV, Hillary Cronin, VA, Christine Zaskey  Cullen, Head Start, Jessica Jacobs, TPP, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman House, Yeisie Mateo, DCF, Michelle Michaelann, BHN, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Kristin Peterson, YWCA, Jenni Pothier, TPP, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Janna Tetrault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders

Senate Budget Update: Click here for the excel spreadsheet on how Network priorities fare in the Senate Ways and Means Budget.  We discussed next advocacy steps around amendments.

DHCD Update: We shared the big news of Deputy Undersecretary Rose Evans’ departure from DHCD (and her start at BHN in early June).  We acknowledged the big transition and all Rose has contributed to this effort.  We will wait to hear from DHCD about what and who is next!

Family Homelessness Resource Fair: We reviewed and tweaked the email announcement on the Fair (June 8, 9:30-noon, CHD, 69 Capitol Drive, West Springfield); we discussed the break-out sessions and we reviewed outreach. All systems are go!

Next meeting date: June 13 at 1 pm in Northampton.  Unusual afternoon time is due to scheduling conflict,

Update and Action Alert on Senate Budget Amendments

A quick update on Senate budget amendments to let you know the good news that our Western MA Senators have filed three amendments on the Network’s top priorities:
  • Senator Eric Lesser has filed an amendment to fund the Local Consortiums (prevention funds) at $1 million. Please email/call to send him your thanks at: 413-526-6501Eric.Lesser@masenate.gov
  • Senator Jim Welch has filed an amendment to increase funding to the Tenancy Preservation Program by $500,000 (to $1 million, up from Senate Ways and Means proposal of $500,000 and House Budget of $750,000).  Please contact him at:413-737-7756James.Welch@masenate.gov
  • Senator Adam Hinds has filed an amendment to renew funding for Berkshire emergency shelter.  His contact info:413-344-4561Adam.Hinds@masenate.gov
  • Please also contact Senator Don Humason to encourage his co-sponsorship of these amendments at 413-568-1366Donald.Humason@masenate.gov;
  • And please contact Senate President Stan Rosenberg to express your thanks for his leadership and request his support for these amendments: 413-584-1649Stan.Rosenberg@masenate.gov
When you call, ask that each Senator co-sponsor all 3 amendments as a show of solidarity and collaboration across the region, something I know they are actively considering.  Add your voice to their consideration!
Your 10 minutes on this will make a big difference! The Senate Budget will be debated as of Tuesday of next week and will be voted upon by the end of the week.  Now is the time to contact these senators (either as a constituent or as a provider of homelessness services in the region, both count!).
Thanks for your engagement!

You’re invited! Family Homelessness Resource Fair for Providers: June 8, 9:30 am

Please distribute to your networks:

Come together as providers to learn, get connected  and discover opportunities to help families prevent and end homelessness:

Western Massachusetts Family Homelessness Resource Fair
Thursday, June 8
9:30 am – 12 noon
Center for Human Development (Pace School Gymnasium)
69 Capital Drive, West Springfield
Free of Charge. No registration required.
Refreshments will be served.

Join over 30 providers from across the four counties of Western Massachusetts – housing, child care, domestic violence, education, employment, mental health, substance use and more – in this provider-to-provider sharing of resources to better assist families at risk of or experiencing homelessness.  Find out who and where to call to access resources in support of a family’s pursuit of housing stability.

Drop-in anytime to stroll among the tables.  Specific 20 minute break-out sessions will also be provided on targeted topics, including:

10:00 amHow the state Emergency Assistance (EA) system works: learn about the criteria for eligibility, diversion resources, shelter services and re-housing and stabilization programs

10:30 am: Domestic Violence Services: learn from domestic violence shelter providers from across the region how to access support and what it entails

11:00 am: Veterans Services: learn from veterans service providers from across the region how best to determine eligibility and what specialized resources are available

11:30 am: Employment Services: learn from each of the region’s career centers how to access employment support for families and what services entail

If you are interested in having space at a table to share your resources, please contact Pamela Schwartz, pschwartz77@gmail.com.  If you plan to attend, an RSVP to Pamela is appreciated but not required.

Please spread the word! All are welcome!

Sponsored by the Family Services Committee of the
Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness