Secure Jobs Connect Advisory Committee
July 16, 2013

In attendance:  Alvina Brevard, DHCD, Ken Demers, New England Farm Workers Council, Joanne Glier, DTA, Jeff Hayden, Holyoke Community College, Rep. Peter Kocot, Lisa Lapierre, Secure Jobs Connect, Darlene Morse, CareerPoint, Bill Mulholland, Berkshire Community College, Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator, Robin Sherman, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority

Reviewed SJC monthly report to Brandeis (the project evaluator).  Please click here for the report.

Also noted the Fireman Foundation’s June summary report summarizing data from the 5 project grantees statewide (click here to review).   Among the 5 projects, SJC has the second highest job placement rate.  As of today, 24 clients employed.  Roughly 20 people enrolled in Berkshire/Franklin Counties.  9 from Franklin County.  10 or 11 in Berkshire County.

Lisa Lapierre, SJC project director, at full-time, and Darlene Morse, CareerPoint’s staff committed to the project at half-time, are carrying the program right now, as CPM is still in the hiring process for another full-time staff person.  All agreed they are doing an AMAZING JOB of assessing, placing and supporting clients.

Since the start of the project, 3 clients have lost jobs and 1 of them is re-employed.  This is an amazing retention rate given the challenges.  Lisa and Darlene are offering intensive case management support.

A couple of clients are facing the threat of eviction.  One was able to move into a family member’s apartment.  Unclear the fate of the other.  Still in process and trying to assist.

Continuing to focus on serving families who face the termination of their HomeBASE subsidies.   Just completed a 3rd round of outreach – with Darlene’s assistance – and having a next orientation meeting next week.

Referrals in general have slowed down due to 2 additional new initiatives between HAP/CareerPoint and VOC and FutureWorks, targeting HomeBASE families who are non-English speaking (this is funded through HAP with some end of year state monies).  Will continue to connect with HAP around referrals to SJC after results of next week’s orientation with other HomeBASE families.

Some inspiring partner contributions:

HAP purchased day care slots for those families who would otherwise be ineligible for subsidized slots but would not be able to continue working without child care.  Bought 8 weeks of child care for 7 children.

Holyoke Credit Union – allowed program to purchase gift cards and eliminate all fees.  A gift of about $800.

Savers has hired 4 SJC clients and donates clothing to clients who need work clothes.

Agreed we need to celebrate and publicize these partner contributions!

Looking ahead:  how do we sustain and grow this project?

Just submitted application to Commonwealth Corp. to expand program in Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire Counties (and sustain it in Hampden).  Will hear back in October.

Also agreed we should look for national funding opportunities.

Agreed a defining feature of Fireman funding success is the unrestricted funds, allowing the program to adapt resources in a way that best services business and client.

Sue Beaton going to DC to present to USICHH  on this pilot project.

Discussed value of case management and importance of incentives (the carrot instead of the stick).  Really working!

Would love to see us follow these families for 3-4 years and provide the ultimate reward of a car to enable maximum employment opportunity.

Rep. Kocot:  Wants to make government a partner, too, a resource for funds.

All agreed that the mission behind this pilot project is to impact both state policymaking and state funding for this kind of initiative.  Acknowledged that this kind of flexibility is much more difficult to provide via government funding and the required restrictions on eligibility criteria, etc.  We need to move away from the putative approach, e.g., if you don’t do x number of hours of work, you lose benefits.  Need to shift to incentives on a state level as well.

Also provided as hand-out a sample page of the web pages Andrea Miller is creating to provide easy access and information regarding the program.  Click here to review.

Next meeting 9/17, 3:30 pm-4:45 pm, will confirm if Franklin/Hampshire Career Center is available.

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