Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 5/14/19

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In attendance:  Isatu Barrie, NEFWC, Asia Bradford, YWCA, Theresa Cooper-Gordon, NEFWC, Evelyn Garrafo, NEFWC, Radame Jusino, NEFWC, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet, Jane Lindfors, DTA DV Unit, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Lizzy Ortiz, Mercy Medical, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Sabrina Swinton, NEFWC, Janna Tetreault, Community Action,  Norayma Vazquez, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Erica Zayas, VOC


State Budget Update: Senate Budget Advocacy WeekPamela reported out on the Senate Ways and Means Committee budget which was released last week.  There are several significant advances, including increased funding for unaccompanied homeless youth, Secure Jobs and Alternative Housing Voucher Program. There is also more work to do through the budget amendment process, to increase funding for RAFT, HCECs and more.  Please see this Network blog post that summarizes the Network’s priority amendments and how to request Senate co-sponsorships.  Your agency or personal contact of your senator this week will make a big difference. 

Training debriefsWe checked in on the recent child care voucher/Head Start training that was held at HCC a April 30.  People who attended felt it was well-done and worthwhile.  It was noted that the lack of Head Start or any equivalent over the summer months is a huge challenge for families. 

We also checked in on the racial equity training – we completed the second in a three part series on April 25.  The consensus is that the trainer, Marc Dones, is excellent and the content is extremely important.  We also agreed that this kind of work never stops; and that there is interest in continuing it after the last session on June 6.  We agreed that the next step must include organizational buy-in from the highest level.  And it was also suggested we needed to bring this work to the young adult population as well. 

Training possibilities for next yearWe had a preliminary brainstorm on trainings for next year, including:

  • Immigration training (how to best assist undocumented people experiencing homelessness and other issues related to immigration status
  • Coordinated Entry – what is it, how does it work (coordinate with CoCs)
  • Racial equity (continuing the work)
  • EA training (repeat)
  • Tenant screening barriers (repeat)

Pamela will compile a list of all trainings offered this year and provide a brief analysis as a foundation for a more deliberate discussion at our next meeting. 

Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP): Both the Springfield-Hampden and Three County CoCs are preparing to submit their HUD funded YHDP applications (due May 15) that would provide a significant influx of resources if awarded.  The Three County CoC is applying as a rural region for Franklin County only.  This is their first application.  For Springfield-Hampden, it is their 3rd application and much progress and learning has occurred through the process. This effort is very relevant to our family work because a large number of homeless youth ages 18-24 are pregnant/parenting and in the family shelter system. 

Additionally, there are a number of unaccompanied homeless youth who have left their family while the family is in the shelter system, and finally, with this additional support, we may want to flag homeless families in shelter with older teenagers to help identify the supports they need or help connect them to young adult services outside the family. Awards will be announced in August. 

Three County CoC Update:
Community Action has hired its CoC Program Coordinator, Keleigh (pronounced “Kelly”) Pereira.  She started a week ago and will be connecting to our meetings in the near future. 

Family cap repealed!  We had a moment of celebration around this very significant policy change that ended the penalty for having additional children while on TAFDC.  DTA is now working extremely hard to adjust cash assistance levels based on a complete count of children in the family.  Thanks to everyone involved in the hard work to make this change happen.

Network Housing/Homelessness Resource Fair: June 10.  We have 60 providers from across every sector and every county signed up to share information and roughly 130 people planning to attend.  Approximately 15 Western MA state legislators will be present from 9:30-10:00 am to be publicly thanked.  Stay tuned for more logistical information.

Next meeting date: Tuesday, June 11, 11 am – 12:30 pm, Frost Building, Room 309