Category Archives: Family Services Committee

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,

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,  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 

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 4/27/17

Family Services Committee Meeting
April 27, 2017

In attendance:  Jane Banks, CHD, Shelly Benoit, BHN, Jessica Jacobs, Tenancy Preservation Program, Jane Lindfors, DTA/DV Unit, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Luis Martinez, CHD, Yeisie Mateo, DCF Housing Specialist, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Jenni Pothier, Tenancy Preservation Program, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Janna Tetreault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, HAPHousing, Mandy Winalski, Community Legal Aid

FY18 State Budget Update:
The House just passed its FY18 budget.  We reviewed how the Network’s family priorities fared.  Please click here for a summary.

Three County Point in Time Count review:
The Committee reviewed the Three County’s PIT summary report (please go to Annual Point in Time Count for this report and more detailed visuals).  The overall number of homeless persons during the 2017 PIT Count decreased by 15% compared to the 2016 PIT Count, a decrease that was due primarily to reductions in the hotel/motel census (from 76 people to 0) and in the reduction in Soldier On’s Grant Per Diem beds (from 241 beds to 213 beds).  This meant that the total number of homeless families decreased from 57 families to 39 households between 2016 and 2017.  The group noted the contrast in numbers with Hampden County PIT findings, which identified 513 homeless families and 1941 people in homeless families.

Statewide Data Review:
The group reviewed DHCD’s EA Monthly Report (available on DHCD’s website and provided during DHCD’s monthly statewide phone call with providers).  Click here for the full report. We noted that in March 650 families applied for EA; 133 from Western MA (Boston, 117, North Shore 63).  We also noted the 0 families in hotels/motels, the only region in the State (although only 2 in South Shore and 3 in Central Mass; 37 in North Shore, 27 in Boston).  We also looked at the HomeBase entries (either as a result of Diversion or Exits from shelter).  Western MA entered 42 families into HB.  We agreed that this number would be very interesting if the diversion and exit numbers could be separated (to ascertain numbers diverted).

The group also agreed that looking at this data on a monthly basis would be useful.  Pamela will incorporate it into the agenda.

Family Homelessness Resource Fair Planning (Thursday, June 8, 9 am – 12 noon, HCC):
We reviewed the planning summary document thus far (click here).  The group also decided on the following:

  • we would have 4 break-out groups of 20 minutes each on: the EA system (point person: Jane Banks/Yoshi Bird); employment services (point person: Pamela to the career centers); domestic violence services (point person Heather Marshall); veterans services (point person: Hillary Cronin).  Each point person would reach out to colleagues to touch base on how best to approach the break-out.  We agreed the goal is to provide a brief snap-shot of where a provider is to call/know when faced with a family who is identified with the pertinent need; that the time for Q&A would happen in the circulation time following the break-out.  Each point person will report back at our next family services meeting.
  • The schedule tentatively is: 9 am – 10 am – general circulation; 10 am – 11:15 am – break-out groups; 11:15 am – noon – general circulation
  • The planning sub-committee – Janna Teatrault (Community Action), Jane Banks (CHD), Janette Vigo (Way Finders) – will make a plan to visit the space at HCC to plan the lay-out for the event.
  • Other outreach to do:  school liaisons (Pamela); NELCWIT (Jane Lindfors); substance abuse providers (Shelly Benoit), Catholic Charities (Pamela), Springfield Housing Authority (Pamela to Pam Wells); Chicopee Housing Authority (Pamela to Monica Blazik); Holyoke Housing Authority (Janette Vigo); New Lease Program (Janette Vigo); Care Center (Pamela); Mass Fair Housing (Pamela); AISS (Pamela), Providence Hospital (Gerry); DA’s office (Janette Vigo?)

The general assumption is that each provider showcasing info would provide summary contact info on how to access resources.

We agreed our outreach for this event would be internally oriented (e.g., no press release, not advertised to the broader community); that for the first time we would “keep it local” to the Network and then assess and see if expansion is in order for next time.

Next meeting date:
Tuesday, May 16
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
CHD, 51 Capital Dr, West Springfield

Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes –

Family Services Committee Meeting
March 21, 2017

In attendance: Jesus Arce, City of Springfield, Jane Banks, CHD, Hillary Cronin, VAMC, Shelly Benoit, BHN, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Steve Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Sara Slautterback, DESE, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Tonya Sparks, WomanShelter, Janna Teatrault, Community Action, Jennnifer Utley, DCF, Janette Vigo, HAP, Jen Wands, Springfield Schools 

Reviewed Point in Time Count Information (click here for the PIT overview and here for the Family PIT Report)

The group reviewed and discussed the findings. Follow-up question:

  • What is the precise breakdown in the decrease in homeless families between 2015 and 2016 (the report says “35% since 2015”). This would be interesting to better analyze the impact of the increased investment in the diversion program (began around 9/15) and the creation of the Strategic Re-Housing Initiative (SRI) (began in 2016). The SRI included DHCD allocations to housing providers to provide flexible funds to help re-house in challenging situations. This has proven very effective. Pamela will follow-up with Gerry for the breakdown by year.
  • The group also decided it would be worthwhile to look more closely at the allocation of SRI and better understand its impact, e.g., # of families served, typical use of funds, etc. Jane and Janette agreed to bring this analysis to the next meeting. Pamela will reach out to Joel Cox of NEFWC to request his participation.
  • Sarah Slautterback of DESE added that 21,000 children were identified as homeless during the 2015-2016 school year. And they are seeing an increase in doubled-up families this year.

Reviewed Boston Foundation Homelessness Family Report (click here for summary of Executive Summary)

The group reviewed the findings of this report, remarking on the overall marked increase in family homelessness since FY08 with notable decreases in the last 2 years. This circles us back to the examination of regional data as discussed above.

Family Homelessness Resource Fair Brainstorm

After good discussion, the group decided the following about this event:

  • It will take place either June 6, June 7, June 8, depending on results of a Doodle Poll. From 9 am – 12 noon (light breakfast included, thanks to CHD – thank you, Jane!)
  • First choice location is Northampton Senior Center – if not available will try HCC.
  • In addition to tables with agency information (and ensuring a staff person is always at the table while people are roaming!), we will offer mini-break-out groups, e.g., landlord outreach, how does the EA process work, services for veteran families.
  • The largest agencies (e.g, HAP, CHD, NEFWC, Community Action, Berkshire Regional, Franklin Regional, ServiceNet, BHN, Veterans Inc, other veterans agencies) could offer mini-sessions that provide info on the range of services they provide .
  • Consider possibility of having broader service info available, e.g., Mass Health rep (others will pursue leads on this and be in touch with Pamela on any contacts) or CBHI
  • A sub-committee will help plan this in between committee meetings. It will include: Janna Tetrault, Jane Banks, Janette Vigo and Shelley Benoit (and Pamela). Pamela will be in touch to further discuss shortly.

Network FY18 Budget Priorities

The Network’s Leadership Council convened last week and decided upon the Network’s FY18 budget priorities (click here), which included the recommended priorities from the family services committee. Pamela is working with Network partners now to schedule legislator meetings over the coming weeks to advocate for these priorities.

Next meeting date:
Our regularly scheduled meeting date of 4/11/17 conflicts with the first day of Passover. Then Spring Break is the week following. So the group decided the next available date is Thursday, 4/27, 9:30-11 am, and will try for the Northampton Senior Center