Category Archives: Family Services Committee

image_pdfimage_print

Family RFI Response Submitted!

The Western MA Network to End Homelessness is pleased to report its submission to DHCD’s Family Homelessness System Request for Information (RFI). Please see the Network response here.

By way of context, copied below is the Network’s “background information” for this response:
The Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness is the collaborative vehicle for preventing and ending homelessness in the four counties of Western Massachusetts with a Housing First approach. This RFI response is an outgrowth of a series of meetings through the Network’s Family Services Committee, a committee comprised of over 100 members, including a broad cross-section of all housing and shelter providers, and partners in health care, substance addiction and mental health, domestic violence, child care, education, and workforce development, as well as state agency representatives from DHCD, DPH, DCF and DMH. This Committee selected a targeted number of questions that it felt would best reflect the region’s proposed vision to ending family homelessness. The Network’s Family Services Committee seeks DHCD’s adoption of its recommendations, and looks forward to continuing the work in partnership with each other and DHCD to prevent and end homelessness in Western Massachusetts and the Commonwealth as a whole.

Congratulations to all for the excellent work and the amazing partnership!

Family Services Meeting Minutes – 1/8/18

Note: Please note the next meeting to discuss the coordinated response to the RFI for the Family Homelessness System will take place on Thursday, Jan. 17, 9 am -11 am, Kittredge Center, Room 303, Holyoke Community College.

Summary Minutes of 1/8/18 Family Services Committee Meeting

In attendance:  Shelly Benoit, BHN, Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Ashley Brehm, Way Finders, Tracy Caisse, BHN, Joel Cox, NEFWC, Hillary Cronin, VA, Dawn DiStefano, Square One, Anthia Elliott, BHN, Gus Erskine, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Fran Lemary, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA DV unit, Andrea Marion, VOC, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield/CoC, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Theresa Nicholson, CHD, Yajaira Ramos, BHN, Jolanta Rumierz, DCF, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Janna Teatrault, Community Action,  Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Melissa White, VOC, Erica Zayas, VOC


Review of DHCD’s RFI for the Family Homelessness System (To access the RFI, go to: https://www.COMMBUYS.com, go to “contract and bid search” link at bottom page and insert BID SOLICITATION NUMBER: BD-19-1076-OCDDE-OCD01-34305)

The group reviewed each question of the RFI and agreed on the questions that were potentially appropriate for a coordinated response. 
We identified some of the major areas we know we want to flesh out:

  • mental health services – greater integration and coordination (see Project FIT as a model)
  • domestic violence services – greater integration and coordination
  • substance use treatment – greater integration and coordination
  • permanent supportive housing – more of it for families with chronic barriers
  • earlier assessment of families with complex barriers while accounting for the fact that it can take time before the full needs are known (tricky!)
  • creating a shelter system that acknowledges every family has unique needs
  • sufficient stabilization resources to provide the support necessary for long-term stability
  • undocumented immigrant families: a response system that addresses their particular challenges to obtain housing, employment, etc.
  • better coordination between EOHHS programs and DHCD
  • better coordination with DCF
  • more units that accommodate families with physical disabilities
  • “right sizing” each community’s shelter system so families do not need to move out their community of origin
  • make better use of housing authority resources

The group discussed how to continue the planning process.  One suggestion was to “start fresh” in our discussion with an outcome-oriented approach: how should our system function to maximize stable housing for families at risk of or experiencing homelessness; how do we re-house families quickly and stably? We discussed retaining a professional facilitator to lead us in this exercise but then acknowledged the limited time and complexity of each agency also sorting out their responses.  Pamela agreed to continue talking one-on-one with committee members to think through the best format for our next meeting. 

Next meeting date: Thurs., Jan. 17, 9 am – 11 am, Kittredge Center, Room 303, Holyoke Community College

We agreed upon the date of Thurs., Jan. 17, 9-11 am to meet next.  Location is Kittredge, Room 303, HCC.

DHCD’s RFI Released: EA Family Homelessness Shelter System

DHCD has released its EA Family Homelessness Shelter System RFI.  Responses are due Feb. 15.  Please see below on how to access the bid.

The Family Services Committee is meeting Tuesday, Jan. 8, 11 am – 12:30 pm, at Kittredge Center, Room 303, Holyoke Community College,to begin discussions on our regional response.  All are welcome.

Please be advised that the Department of Housing and Community Development has posted a new Bid Solicitation:

BID SOLICITATION NUMBER: BD-19-1076-OCDDE-OCD01-34305
BID SOLICITATION DESCRIPTION: DHCD2019-16 RFI Emergency Assistance Family Homeless Shelter System 
BID SOLICITATION OPENING DATE: 02/15/2019 05:00:00 PM
ENTERED DATE: 01/04/2019 05:00:00 PM

Please refer to Bid Solicitation documents for further instructions.

Purchaser Information:
Rocco Albano
rocco.albano@mass.gov
(617)573-1258

All Bidders must respond within the requirements of this solicitation and its applicable procurement laws, policies and practices. All Bidders are responsible for ensuring that their responses are based on the most current version of the bid record.

Technical questions about system functionality or your account? Contact the COMMBUYS Helpdesk at commbuys@state.ma.us

Thank you for using COMMBUYS!

**************************************************

HOW DO I ACCESS THE BID RECORD ABOVE?

If you DO NOT have a COMMBUYS Login ID and Password:

1. Go to https://www.COMMBUYS.com
2. Select the “Contract & Bid Search” link and on the next page Select “Bids”
3. Enter the Bid # listed above in the Bid# field and select the “Find It” button
4. In the Results section, select the Bid# hyperlink to open and view the bid record

If you DO have a COMMBUYS Login ID and Password:

1. Go to https://www.COMMBUYS.com
2. Enter your login credentials into the Login ID & Password and select Login
3. Select the Settings icon from the top right of the page, and then Advanced Search
4. In the Document Type drop down box select “Bids”, the page will refresh and offer the Advanced Search fields
5. Enter the Bid # listed above in the Bid# field and select the “Find It” button
6. In the Results section, select the Bid# hyperlink to open and view the bid record

************************************************** External bid URL : https://www.commbuys.com/bso/external/bidAck.sdo?parentUrl=activeBids&bidId=BD-19-1076-OCDDE-OCD01-34305

Use this link to log on to COMMBUYS: https://www.commbuys.com/bso/view/login/login.xhtml

Family Services Meeting Minutes – 12/11/18

In attendance: Ashley Brehm, Way Finders, Ellen Broadhurst, West Springfield Schools, Joel Cox, NEFWC, Hillary Cronin, VA, Anthia Elliott, BHN, Waleska Estrada, NEFWC, Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Libby Hayes, Homes for Families, Steve Huntley, VOC, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV, Andrea Marion, VOC, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Rebecca Muller, Gandara, Theresa Nicholson, CHD, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Aisha Pizarro, YWCA, Jenni Pothier, TPP, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Janna Tetrault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Lauren Voyer, Way Finders, Melissa White, VOC, Erica Zayas, VOC

Discussion of Shelter Re-Procurement with guest Libby Hayes, Executive Director, Homes for Families

Libby summarized the main discussion points thus far based on DHCD’s listening sessions and ongoing discussions with providers statewide (click here for summary of procurement discussions and here for a summary of the Listening Sessions).

Feedback included:

  • When considering extending HomeBASE, look at criteria forextension
  • Better integrate domestic violence services to families 
  • Provide more clinical treatment for mental health and substanceuse issues
  • Address staff professional development needs and recruitmentchallenges
  • Increase systematic and coordinated stabilization to bestconnect to other supports, e.g., WIC and Head Start
  • Integrate workforce development
  • Align DHCD and DTA income and asset guidelines eligibility is consistent

Break-out groups to address stabilization question in more depth(seeRFI Discussion Q here.  Feedback included:

  • Critical Time Intervention needs more than 3-6 months to be effective
  • Intensive case management should be available as needed but a “transition worker” could be seen as intrusive to families (make available only when families are receptive)
  • Extending HomeBASE should not be based on criteria because of complexity of assessment and determinations (and potentially uneven application)
  • Should we be talking about extending HomeBASE or taking the dollars such an extension would require and allocate them to increased MRVP vouchers to actually create more permanent housing
  • Extending HomeBASE would be make landlords more amenable to accepting the resource
  • We need DATA on OUTCOMES on HomeBASE and stabilization to better determine the program’s effectiveness – right now DHCD’s EA and HB data systems are separate and do not talk to each other – efforts are being made to fix that but this is a huge gap in quantitative evaluation (beyond case notes)
  • Accountability is an important element in any program design
  • Stabilization services are coordinated in many instances; we just need to do a better job of capturing that coordination
  • Caseloads are too high and by definition preclude meaningful stabilization – must reduce!
  • Permanent supportive housing is a model that works – it’s happening in Hampden County for families and needs to be expanded – let’s make sure to feature our successes in our responses to DHCD

Next steps:

  • We will establish a flow of communication with Homes for Families and within the Network so that ideally providers statewide are responding to the RFI with coordinated goals and strategies.
  • The Request for Information (RFI) is due out by the end of this week.  We will exchange on it by email and meet again to discuss at our next regularly scheduled meeting on Jan. 8.

Announcement: Per our previous meeting discussion, the committee is hosting a training by Community Legal Aid to learn more about the resources and representation available for families facing legal challenges.  The training will take place on Wed., Jan. 23, 2:30-4:00 pm, Holyoke Public Library Community Room, 250 Chestnut Street, Holyoke

Next regularly scheduled meeting date:
Tuesday, Jan. 8
11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Kittredge Center, Room 303
Holyoke Community College


Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 11/13/18

In attendance:  Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Melissa Blisset, Square One, Portia Bullock, NEFWC, Christine Cullen, Holyoke Chicopee Family and Community Program, Alicia Gordon, Veteran Administration, Jessica Jacobs, TPP, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA DV Unit, Carmen Lopez, Yeisie Mateo, DCF, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Rylee O’Brien, Baystate General Pediatrics, Lizzy Ortiz, Medical Medical Group, Andrea Marion, VOC, Aisha Pizarro, YWCA, Stephen Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action,  Martha Sandoval, Baystate General Peditraics, Pamela Schawrtz, Network, Tanya Sparks, Janna Tetreault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Julie Vital, Baystate General Pediatrics, Erica Zayas

Family shelter re-procurement discussion:The group discussed how best to approach the strategic planning.  We agreed that while we await the Request for Information (RFI), due out late November or December from DHCD, we can get started with examining some of the presume questions, e.g.:

  • what’s working in the current system?
  • what’s not working and creates barriers or gaps? (including what currently exists in theory but is not actually working as intended AND what doesn’t even exist but should)
  • what do we think should be done differently to address those barriers and close those gaps?
  • what is the role of the Network in this effort in relationship to the role of the individual providers, i.e., what does it mean for the Network to maximize its support and complement the work

We discussed the value of family input in this process, including the possibility of focus groups and surveys.  Family shelter providers will consult within their agencies on this question and report back at our next meeting.  We also discussed the value of learning from the focus groups conducted by Boston-based Homes for Families and agreed to invite Libby Hayes, executive director, to our next meeting to get her input.  Pamela collected possible meeting dates from the group and will report back after connecting with Libby.


We agreed everyone would consider the questions above prior to our next meeting.  Then when we meet, Pamela will have news print in tow and we will use some of the meeting time to break out into small groups and start answering these questions.

Legal services training:  Pamela brought to the group a conversation with Jen Dieringer of Community Legal Aid regarding bringing Legal Aid in for a training (within the committee) to better understand Legal Aid’s availability and offerings in this work. The group was uniformly enthusiastic and recommended planning for a January date. Pamela will follow-up with Jen and report back.

Update on Three County Continuum of Care:  Janna Tetrault of Community Action announced that the 3 county CoC is in the process of changing administrator hands.  It is currently administered by the Hilltown CDC and they are deciding to no longer continue in that role.  An RFP has been issued, so there will be a new CoC leader in the coming months. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

Next meeting date: Pamela will report back after reaching out to Libby Hayes to determine a meeting date.

Update: Next meeting date set:  Tuesday, December 11, 1:30-3:30 pm, Kittredge Center, Room 303, Holyoke Community College

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 10/9/18

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 10/9/18

In attendance: Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Lynnann Brown, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Carla Chioda, Adams-Cheshire Schools, Emma Ciccarillo, YWCA, Joel Cox, NEFWC, Rose Flores, YWCA, Jessica Jacobs, Tenancy Preservation Project, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Yeisie Mateo, DCF, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Theresa Nicholson, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Janette Vigo, Way Finders

Discussion with Assistant Undersecretary Jane Banks re: re-procurement of family system:

Jane Banks was able to join us on the phone for a good portion of our meeting.  She reported that the Request for Information (RFI) for the family system re-procurement (slated for July, 2020) will be released end of November/early December with a couple months allowed for responding. She strongly encouraged the following:

  • consider how to build collaborations within the system with DV providers and mental health/substance use providers; how to make a system that responds to sexual assault survivors. Establish the relationships and connections “from the ground up.”
  • consider how to build more intensive, on-the-ground collaborations with state agency local offices, including DCF, DMH, DTA
  • consider how to build partnerships with legal advocates in a more effective way, to build relationships that are less adversarial and more collaboratively problem-solving, e.g., meet monthly with the advocacy community
  • consider how to build the stabilization process; how are we going to keep families housed; how to best use HomeBASE for that purpose (meeting with a family once-a-month is not sufficient – how do we connect with other stakeholders to strengthen the family; consider mobile outreach teams; consider stronger ties to workforce development)
  • consider a joint Network response to the RFI – strongly encouraged!
  • THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX – how do we make a system that works better for families!

The group discussed these ideas after the call and agreed that it should meet in smaller sub-groups around the particulars.  Janette will check back in with Lauren regarding the quarterly family providers meeting (next one happens to be 10/26 at Way Finders) and whether it makes sense to utilize that meeting to start this conversation.  Pamela will be back in touch regarding next steps, but we will aim for targeted meetings by topic, e.g., DV/sexual assault survivors; mental health/substance use providers; legal advocates.

Other announcements:

  • BHN’s Project FIT is ending at the end of this calendar year due to lack of funding.  Michelle will provide us with some summary data so we can learn from it (and also bring its success into the re-procurement conversations).
  • The Network is hosting its legislative gathering on Friday, November 16, 1 pm – 3 pm, Greenfield Community College.  State legislators, mayors, and other elected officials will be in attendance for a session on the “state of homelessness” in the region and our best practices to address it.  Please register here.
  • The Network is sponsoring trainings offered by OrgCode, a highly reputed training group on issues of homelessness.  On December 18, it will offer “how to run an awesome shelter” – stay tuned for a registration link but for now if you are a shelter provider, please mark your calendar for this all-day training!

Next meeting dates:
Tuesday, November 13, 11 am – 12:30 pm
Tuesday, December 11, 11 am – 12:30 pm
Location for both: HCC, Frost Building, Room 309

 

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 9/18/18

Family Services Committee Meeting
September 18, 2018
 
In attendance: Shelley Benoit, BHN, Melissa Blisset, Square One, Lynnanne Brown, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Portia Bullock?, NEFWC, Ellen Broadhurst, Chicopee Public Schools, Hillary Cronin, VA HUD VASH, Anthia Elliott, BHN, Fran Lemay, Greenfield Family Inn/ServiceNet, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman House, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Janna Teatrault, Community Action, Melissa White, Valley Opportunity Council
DHCD data review – click here
We reviewed the data provided by DHCD and confirmed our continued need for greater clarity, e.g., to include the transfer number in the number of entries and exits does not provide us with meaningful data.  We also agreed it would be useful to understand:
  • among the number of EA applicants, how many were diverted, and within that number, how many used RAFT, how many used HomeBASE
  • on the data sheet that details “where client went upon exit” the first box says “emergency shelter” – need to clarify that
We also agreed that once Donna has returned (10/1), we will ask for her placement numbers to be added to the monthly report.
Network earmark update
Pamela shared the Network Steering Committee conversation regarding the allocation of the Network earmark of $125,000.  The current proposal is to allocate $25,000 to training needs for the Network focused on a range of skills and practices, including trauma-informed care, how to run a housing oriented shelter, and cultural competency.  The remainder would be allocated to flexible funds to assist with prevention and rapid rehousing, including landlord mitigation funds (e.g., repairs, etc.) to encourage renting to tenants. The Committee unanimously supported this proposal.
Family Services Committee work plan
The Network Steering Committee also requested that the Network committees consider its goals and broad work plan for this fiscal year.  After discussion, the group recommended these broad goals:
  • relationship building and information sharing (supports motivation and positive energy in the work)
  • legislative advocacy – a unified voice and opportunity to meet with legislators
  • professional development through Network sponsored trainings
We agreed to further brainstorm outcome measures related to # of legislative meetings and legislative outcomes and # of people attending trainings, broken down by agency type and sub-region so we can best assess Network reach and impact.
Network Legislative Meeting: November 16, 1-3 pm, Greenfield Community College
The Network is hosting a legislative meeting to introduce the 5 new legislators in the Upper Valley.  It will be regionwide, including all Western MA legislators and local officials and Network partners.  Stay tuned for additional info but mark your calendars for now!
Next meeting dates/times
Our previous meeting time of 1 pm on Tuesday permanently conflicts with Hampden County’s individual case conferencing meetings which precludes Gerry McCafferty, the Hampden CoC liaison, from ever attending these meetings.  All agreed that it was no problem (and for some, even preferred!) to move the time to at least afford the opportunity for her to join us.
In general, we will move our meeting time to 11 am-12:30 pm but due to a conflict in October, for the October meeting we will meet from 12 noon-1:30 pm.
So our upcoming meeting schedule is:
 
Tues., 10/9, 12 noon – 1:30 pm
Tues., 11/13, 11 am – 12:30 pm
Tues., 12/11, 11 am – 12:30 pm
Note: Unfortunately, the Holyoke Public Library is not available, but HCC’s Frost Room 309 is.  So our meetings will take place there.

Family Services Meeting Minutes – 8/7/18

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
August 7, 2018
 
In attendance: Melissa Blissett, Square One, Joel Cox, NEFWC, Hillary Cronin, VA, Christine Cullen, Holyoke Chicopee Family Community Program, 
Jennifer Gonzalez, Holyoke Public Schools, Jessica Jacobs, TPP, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Theresa Nicholson, CHD, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners, Jenni Pothier, TPP, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rachel Shuman, WomanShelter, Tonya Sparks, WomanShelter, Janna Tetrault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Jennifer Wands, Springfield Public Schools
 
State EA Data Review (click here)
Follow-up questions for DHCD:
  • Do the number of applicants listed in Pittsfield and Greenfield include phone applications?
  • Can we get families entering shelter excluding transfers?
  • Can we get diversion numbers (at the front door)?
  • Is there tracking of returns to shelter post end of HomeBASE benefit?
Pamela will follow-up with Andrew and Donna in advance of the next meeting.
FY19 State budget
Family homelessness related highlights include:
  • RAFT funded at $20m (including at least $3m for individuals)
  • HomeBASE benefit increased from $8,000 to $10,000
  • Elimination of family cap (so families are not penalized if they have another child while receiving benefits)
  • Youth homelessness was funded at $3.3m – will be used to develop a youth homelessness program in 10 regions across the state – Western MA is counted as 2 regions with Hampden County and Three County.
  • Tenancy Preservation Project funded at $1.3m (up from $500,000); the bulk of the increase will go to serve new housing court expansion in other parts of the state
  • The Network received its earmark of $125,000.  The Steering Committee will be meeting at the end of August to discuss budget planning.
Update on Puerto Rico evacuees
Way Finders is administering the METAR program (MA Evacuee Temporary Assistance Reserve Program) and has hired a team of housing case managers and a program case manager.  The program provides up to $8,000 for families and $4,000 for individuals. Thus far they have assessed 109 households (103 are living in hotels) and 22 families have been housed thus far.  Way Finders has walk-in hours, Tues.,Wed. and Thurs, 9 am – 1 pm.
Springfield Public Schools has 650 student evacuees.
Holyoke Public Schools has 250 registered student evacuees.
Hampden County CoC Update (from Gerry McCafferty via email):
  • Springfield-Hampden CoC is moving into coordinated entry for Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) for families.  Way Finders and NEFWC have been trained on electronic system, CHD and VOC will be trained soon.
  • CoC competition applications due by 8/8/18, 4 pm.  The RFP is available: Springfield-Hampden CoC Competition RFP FY18
  • CoC has just released RFP looking for local partners to apply for Mass Homeless Youth Program.  Note that target population are all youth 18-24, including parenting youth. Responses are due 8/29/18 and the CoC will hold a bidders’ conference on 8/17, 18, 10 am, Springfield Municipal Operations Center, 70 Tapley St. Springfield. Go to: 19-025 Homeless Youth Services and 19-025 Addendum No. 1
DHCD Procurement Meeting Debrief: On July 26, DHCD (Jane Banks and Donna Nadeau) convened a meeting of Western MA EA shelter providers to begin the conversation around the upcoming re-procurement process (not due out until next year). The consensus was that it was a good start; for some newcomers to the system, it was a good way to learn more about our current systems.  There was emphasis on the need for greater and more in-depth continuity of service – ensuring families are in the right program model that best meets kids’ and parents’ needs, especially related to mental health.  The group discussed the particularly complex challenges facing larger families.
It was noted that this was the first meeting and there will be opportunity for further discussion and planning together.  Pamela offered the Network as a resource in facilitating further regional conversations.
Announcement: Holyoke and Chicopee Family and Community Program (662 High Street, Holyoke) is offering a nurturing place program for infants and toddlers  – meets weekly on Tuesdays.  Call 413-536-0363 for more information.
Meeting schedule: all at Holyoke Public Library
Sept. 18 – 1-2:30 pm
Oct. 9, 1-2:30 pm
Nov. 13, 1-2:30 pm
Dec. 11, 1-2:30 pm