Category Archives: Family Services Committee

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

Family Homelessness Retreat – 2/14/17

On Feb. 14, the Network’s Family Services Committee convened a Family Homelessness Retreat.     We had 33 people in the room, including DHCD Undersecretary Rose Evans, Fireman Foundation Special Initiatives Director Sue Beaton and representatives from other state agencies and providers across housing, health care, education, and more from each of our four counties.

It was a great day of learning and brainstorming and prioritizing.  You can read the details of our discussion in the meeting minutes here.

Hampden County CoC Administrator and City of Springfield Housing Director Gerry McCafferty produced an impressive map of our family homelessness system for our review and discussion. You can find it – along with Hampden County data that informed our discussion – here.  If you have comments or feedback, please email Gerry directly at GMcCafferty@springfieldcityhall.com.

Finally, for your convenience, below is the immediate priority decided upon at the meeting:

What can we do within the next 4 months?

The group agreed to focus its energies on convening a regional “surge event” that offered both information sharing around resources and relationship building across the region.  The group agreed that this was a critical starting point to making broader system change: knowing all the resources that currently exist to serve families in housing crisis, who the people and agencies are that are offering them and how best to access them.  The 33 people in the room identified gaps of knowledge among each other and decided well-planned information sharing within this community for themselves and others in the provider realm was the best place to start.  There was unanimous (and hand-raised!) agreement to commit time and energy to a successful event.

We agreed to continue the planning for this event at our next family services meeting on March 14, 1 pm – 2:30 pm, at  Center for Human Development, 51 Capital Drive, West Springfield.

We look forward to seeing many of you there!

Family Services Meeting Minutes – 1/9/17

Family Services Committee Meeting
January 9, 2017

In attendance: Jane Banks, CHD, Yoshi Bird, CHD, Hillary Cronin, HUD VASH-VA, Juan Cruz, NEFWC, Anthia Elliot, Safe Passage, Jessica Jacobs, TPP, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Michelle Michaelian, BHN, Katherine Moss, BHN, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Carmen Navarro, NEFWC, Lizzy Ortiz, Peck School, Jenni Pothier, TPP, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Tonya Sparks, WomanShelter, TJ Steele, Springfield Partners, Janna Tetrault, Community Action, Lauren Voyer, HAP

Family Services Retreat Planning:

See attached draft. The group expressed consensus on the draft agenda. Issues discussed included:

  • Coordinated entry: where does that fit into the agenda (discussed as a strategy in relation to all 3 goals of prevention, shelter stay reduction and preventing returns to homelessness but will focus on this more in our planning)
  • Ensure we focus on where our region can have an impact (as distinct from state system changes)
  • Agreed to not break-out by sub-region and instead focus outreach on good representation across all counties
  • Noted that Berkshires has unique challenges of accessing EA due to offices in Springfield
  • Donna offered to be the liaison DHCD data requests as needed
  • Discussed location and all agreed on UMass Springfield unless BHN’s offices in Holyoke are available and appropriate space (thanks to Katherine Moss for the inquiry). Note: since the meeting date, Katherine confirmed that the space is not large enough for our group so UMass shall be confirmed.
  • Pamela will be back in touch with updates as further planning unfolds. 

FY18 Legislative Priorities:

The group reviewed the Network’s family homelessness priorities for FY17 and reviewed CHAPA’s Building Blocks Coalition priorities for FY18 (click here for the summary). We agreed that the Committee’s thoughts on this topic would be relayed to the Network Leadership Council as precisely that (“thoughts”) as opposed to firm recommendations in recognition of the variability of who attends each meeting and the lack of executive level agency representation among some agencies in the discussion.

With that, Pamela will relay to the Leadership Council the following thoughts on priorities for family homelessness:

  • Continue to prioritize funding for the Secure Jobs Initiative
  • Adopt Building Blocks priorities on: MRVP ($120m), TPP ($1m), RAFT ($18m), HCECs ($2.64m)
  • Add EOHHS Consortium funding

Update on Behavioral Health Network demonstration project:

Katherine shared an update on the funding of a new demonstration project for Hampden County that will provide wrap-around behavioral health treatment (mental health, substance use issues) for families who are housing insecure. The grant is funded by the state Health Policy Commission and the commitment is to serve 140 families over an 18 month period, starting in late Spring. The measurable outcome for the grant is health care savings, although we agreed that we will track housing outcomes as well. The grant explicitly partners with HAP, Springfield Housing Authority and Home City Housing, although referrals are welcome from any source. Anyone in the family can qualify for services and the range of qualifying conditions is broad. Michelle will be working on the program directly and will be attending our family services meetings and will keep us posted once the program is ready to launch. This is an exciting opportunity for Hampden County.

Announcements: HAP (and all regional housing authorities) was allocated an additional 2 months of RAFT funding for FY17.

Next meeting dates: Our next meeting will be our retreat, Tuesday, 2/14, 10 am – 4 pm, UMass Springfield, conference room. The following meeting will be Tuesday, March 14, 1 pm – 2:30 pm, CHD.