Family Services Committee Meeting
April 8, 2014
In attendance: Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Cris Carl, Family Inn/ServiceNet, Bonnie Caldwell, HAPHousing, Ken Demers, New England Farm Workers Council, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Erin Forbush, ServiceNet – Berkshires, Faith Lafayette, DPH FOR Families, Jane Lindfors, DTA-DV unit, Lynn Minella, WomanShelter Companeras, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Jordana O’connell, Holyoke Public Schools, Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sarah Slautterback, DESE, Stephen Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Hilda Santa, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, Lauren Voyer, HAPHousing
Update on meeting with Alvina Brevard, DHCD Field Director, to discuss presumptive eligibility policies and procedures:
Per our last family services meeting charge, Pamela reached out to Alvina Brevard to discuss presumptive eligibility. Alvina was immediately responsive and a meeting took place on 3/31/14 with Alvina of DHCD, Carmen Roman of DCF, Faith Lafayette of FOR Families and the region’s shelter providers. It was agreed that DHCD should prioritize developing a system for communicating a family’s presumptive placement to providers to prevent against unanticipated terminations (due to failure to complete paperwork, e.g.)
Donna Nadeau of DHCD suggested that the change take place within the ETO system so that the central office could record presumptively placed at the time of placement and all providers could gain immediate access to this information. Pamela will email Alvina, updating her on this conversation and bringing Donna into the loop.
We also discussed the role of presumptive placement as a way of protecting against families sleeping in places not fit for human habitation. Both at the meeting with Alvina and our meeting today, providers shared that they have not encountered families in a position where they have been denied EA in the face of sleeping in unsafe places. Alvina stressed that she always wants to be called if providers are seeing families in this situation.
Donna also announced that next year’s budget proposes to invest more dollars into congregate shelter with the recognition that this is necessary to move families out of motels into more supportive settings.
Everyone expressed support for this move, also recognizing the challenge of start-up costs (rehab) and the challenge of finding the units. But providers are on board for implementation.