Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Update

On the heels of the Secure Jobs Advisory Committee’s very successful Career Services Workshop on 11/15/17, with over 70 people in attendance, the group decided it was time to take stock of how to build on that success and make best use of the Committee.
At our last meeting on December 13 (attending: Luis Arzola, CHD, Ashley Brehm, Way Finders, Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Lisa Lapierre, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Maegan Pedemonti, Way Finders), the group, also in consultation with Konrad Rogowska of FutureWorks and  Pamela Wojtkowski of BerkshireWorks, made some important decisions around the Secure Jobs Advisory Committee.
In summary, the group is changing its name to the Career Services Committee and has decided to take a broader scope in its mission beyond the Secure Jobs Initiative, which due to reduced state funding over recent years (and Way Finders’ innovative in-house ways to continue to employ people far in excess of its state contract goals), now needs to refine its purpose and mission.
Towards that end, the Network in conjunction with core committee members – each career center and Secure Jobs – will convene a focus group-style meeting with specific stakeholders to brainstorm how to best serve the region in our shared goal to increase employment for those at risk of or experiencing homelessness. This meeting will include representatives from: community colleges, literacy centers, community action agencies, family resource centers, housing and shelter providers. If you are among those listed, please stay tuned for a meeting date in late January.
We look forward to being back in touch in February with our clarified focus and next meeting date for the entire committee.

Family Services Meeting Minutes – 12/12/17

Family Services Meeting Minutes
12/12/17

In attendance: Christina Aliengena, NEFWC, Shelly Benoit, BHN, Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Cynthia Capella, VA, Christie Cullen, CFCE, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Holly Florek, CHD, Tavar Jones, CCO, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV unit, Luz Marcano, VA, Luis Martinez, CHD, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Aisha Pizarro, YWCA, Johnie Sanders, ARISE, Pamela Schwartz, Network, TJ Steele, Springfield Partners, Janna Tetreault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders

Data discussion:
DHCD has welcomed our request to receive monthly data reports on family homelessness  to support our own review and discussion at our meetings.  In addition to the data already provided via the monthly DHCD reports re: # of families entering shelter, the group is interested in the following:

·      How many people request assistance?

·      # of families who have identified DV as reason for homelessness

·      # of families who have identified DV as part of their experience in the last 6 months (a question on the intake form),  to capture underlying reason for homelessness even if  DV is not most recent cause

·      # of families denied due to eligibility for FEMA benefits

·      # of families in Springfield shelters are from out of area

The group also expressed interest in obtaining data from other systems:

·      DPH: how many families turned away from DV shelters due to lack of capacity?

·      ARISE: how many families provided assistance due to denial of EA eligibility

Three County CoC Update:
Janna Tetreault reported that the CoC will be launching its coordinated entry system in January.  Soldier On will have an 800 number to provide referrals across the 3 counties; all providers will be using the same assessment tool to prioritize housing placements and there will be weekly case conferencing meetings to utilize the priority list to match families/individuals with available units.

A question was raised around integrating DV shelters into the coordinated entry process.  While this has been the stated goal, DV providers have not been contacted.  Janna will follow-up about this.

Hampden County CoC Update (via Gerry McCafferty email):
1. For maybe 2 years we have had a semi-reguular meeting–about once a quarter–about chronically homeless families, attendance from Way Finders, NEFW and CHD in attendence. We met a week or so ago and decided at that time to make this a monthly meeting to talk about chronic families–that is, to talk about specific clients and brainstorm solution. We are looking to start in January.  Like we do with adults, these would be families that have been assessed with a VISPDAT and have signed a release allow this inter-agency case conferencing.

2. AHAR. The total number of people in families in emergency shelter during the year has crept up a bit–it was 3679 in FY16 and is 3889 in FY17. A little worrisome–hoping it is not a trend.

3, Last year national PIT data. The federal report is out yesterday on the 2017 PIT: https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2017-AHAR-Part-1.pdf.  Among small-city CoCs, Springfield/Hampden County is #2 in country for number of homeless people in families with children. Page 41, exhibit 3.10. Neither the state of MA or any other MA CoC is in the lists of highest for this category. Related to this, the Springfield/Hampden CoC is #10 in the country for small cities for total number of people homeless. P. 17, exhibit 1.10.

DV/EA Work Group Update:
The group sent a letter to DHCD and DPH directors regarding proposals to make more smooth the process for DV families to obtain HomeBASE.  (Click here to see the memo).  At the same time, Yoshi heard from Jane Doe – the statewide coalition of DV providers – that they are working on this issue as well and they agreed to be in touch as conversation unfolds.

The group also discussed local process issues that may assist Way Finders and the DV providers  in effectively assisting DV families.  The group will follow-up separately with Janette.

Assistance for families from Puerto Rico:
Pamela distributed DCF’s memo  that details MA resources available fro PR evacuees.  The Family Resource Centers are the points of entry. Holyoke (Enlace de familias) has an amazing system in place – Mon-Fri from 12 pm – 2 pm providers are available to provide assistance. Click here for a list of resource centers.

The end of FEMA benefits on 1/13 was discussed.  It seems inevitable that there will be a significant demand on the shelter system.  Donna noted that DHCD is meeting weekly with others from across the government to map out a response strategy.

We did not have a clear sense of the numbers in Western MA, although estimates were made of 200 families in Holyoke and 250 in Springfield.  Janette Vigo will report back on more data.

Network update: Pamela reported the good news that thanks to DHCD’s support, the Network will have funds to continue its work at least through the end of FY18. Special thanks to Assistant Undersecretary Jane Banks for her facilitation of this support. Thanks, too, to Donna Nadeau for her incredible support of the Network. The Network will continue to look at how it can best serve the region around next year’s re-procurement of the family and individual shelter systems.  Stay tuned for further information on that.

Announcements:
Lots of moves afoot!

  • CHD now at 184 Mill St, Springfield – where we met today.  Thanks to CHD for hosting us!
  • Safe Passage just purchased a new building in Northampton that will allow them to consolidate their 3 offices.
  • Way Finders just purchased the old Peter Pan Bus Terminal which will also allow them to consolidate offices, have more parking and be more centrally located with excellent access to public transportation.  
  • ARISE is moving up the street to 813 State Street – better located, more space.
  • WomanShelter moved recently to new space at 208 Race Street in Holyoke, near Gateway City Arts. 

Next meeting:
Tuesday, Jan 9, 12:30 – 2 pm, HCC, Frost Building 309 (unusual time and place to accommodate various schedules and meeting locations).

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 12/11/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Committee Meeting Minutes – 12/11/17

In attendance: Emily English, Gandara Center, Rosemary Fielder, Thrive HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Rebecca Guimand, STCC, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara Center, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Yeisie Mateo, DCF, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks and Gandara, Juan Rivera, DYS, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Jennifer Wands, Springfield Public Schools

This meeting focused on learning more about DCF and DYS and how each agency intersected with unaccompanied homeless youth. Towards that end, we learned from Yeisie Mateo, DCF housing specialist, and Juan Rivera, DYS Holyoke District Office.  Below are some highlights of the conversation:

Yeisie Mateo, DCF:
Yeisie is the housing specialist for all of Western MA.  She focuses primarily on families with small children and consults with youth ages 18-24.  There are very few resources to refer to and she is eager to learn of additional resources.

Young adults can sign on with the department for services (DCF can serve youth ages 18-24 years old).  There are roughly 75-90 consultations with young people each month, all in Western MA.  Case management generally translates into establishing goals and providing assistance in finding employment or going to school.  Many young people who have been part of the foster system want nothing to do with it once they turn 18.  A young person can choose to stay in the foster home after reaching 18 if the foster parent will allow it.  Young people who find an apartment (very difficult to find and afford) can receive a small stipend.

If a young person leaves home at 16 or 17, they generally are not effectively in the custody of DCF in which case they are not eligible for services.

The group discussed the prospect of promoting greater engagement with DCF through building collaborations with community based partners and greater acesss to housing.

Juan Rivera, DYS:

Juan outlined the various treatment programs and capacities of each.  Young people are committed up to age 18 or 21 if involved with juvenile court.  The young person is assessed and the judge determines length of stay at various centers, generally 3-5 month stays.

•   Springfield Residential Treatment program – secure setting – run by CHD – 16 beds

•   Girls secure treatment detention setting – Tinkham Road – CHD –  also a revocation unit for young women who are not compliant – 12 beds

•   Community adolescent treatment program – Worthington St – step-down, short-term stay 3-5 months –  track 2 – more access, technically in the community – 12-14 beds

•   Our House – residential treatment in Greenfield – Key Program – track 2 program – more access to community, going to school, etc. 12-14 beds

•   Westfield Youth Service Center – for boys  – revocation unit, bail unit, stabilization unit, higher offenders, higher risk individuals 27/30 – reassessed

•   Tom Gruccialternative options – 14 – Gandara

•   Independent Living Program – West Springfield CHD – contract with CHD – 12

DYS operates on positive youth development model with a strong clinical component.   90 days before returning to the community, discussion begins around re-entry, appropriate support services, etc.   Services are in place 30 days prior to discharge.

At 18, youth can leave or can sign on to Youth Engagement Services (YES) up to 90 days after discharge.  Entirely voluntary. Western MA has the most young people YES (75-100).  If they don’t sign on they are given resource packets and referrals.

Bridging Opportunity Gap (BOG) is a partnership with community orgs, e.g, NEFWC, Community Action.

DYS District Manager is Lorrie Bobe (already on committee email list).  Juan is here on her behalf and will check back in with her following this meeting.

Next steps:

·      Gerry will invite Catholic Charities to next meeting to gain better clarity about how to access their resources

·      Yeisie will invite DCF Adolescent Supervisor Peter Meade

·      Gerry will follow up with Yeisie (how many homeless youth are seen) and Lorrie (#s committed, in YES, in Track 2) to gain better sense of numbers; in general our goal is to get as clear a picture as possible on the numbers of homeless youth because the more we can quantify the need, the better position we are in to bring resources to the table.

·      We want to identify the points of entry in and out of homelessness within the various systems and the points of connection and resources among community agencies to get youth on the path to stable housing and financial self-sufficiency.

Budget advocacy: Gerry will follow-up with EOHHS to gain a better understanding of how FY18 youth program funds are being allocated.

Next meeting: Tuesday Jan. 9, 2:30-4:00 pm, HCC, Donahue Building, 368

Action Alert: Urge Governor Baker to Release Shelter Funds

The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported yesterday on the Governor’s failure to release the legislatively authorized funding for Craig’s Doors emergency shelter in Amherst (including a legislative override of the Governor’s veto).  Craig’s Doors is the only behavior based shelter in the Pioneer Valley and provides emergency shelter to 26 individuals on a nightly basis.
Please contact the Governor’s office to urge him to release this funding. His contact information is here: http://www.mass.gov/governor/constituent-services/contact-governor-office/.
State Senator Stan Rosenberg and Representative Solomon Goldstein-Rose have been strongly advocating for the Governor to release these funds.  Please contact them to thank them and let them know how important it is to keep up the pressure.
Representative Goldstein-Rose: Solmon.Goldstein-Rose@mahouse.gov – 617-722-2582
 
Thanks for adding your voice!