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
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