Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes
February 10, 2015

In attendance: Jane Banks, Center for Human Development, Shannon Barry, Springfield Public Schools, Loleta Collino, Springfield Housing Authority, Jenny Delmonte, TPP, Harry Duchesne, New England Farm Workers Council, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Erin Forbush, Servicenet – Berkshires, Julia Guazzo CFCE Coordinated Family Community Engagement, Donna Harris, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Sean Hemingway, CHD, Steve Huntley, VOC, Jill Fijal,Chicopee Public Schools, Fran Lemay, ServiceNet – Franklin County, Jane Lindfors, DTA Domestic Violence Unit, Heather Marshall, EFC, Jordana O’Connell, Holyoke Public Schools ,Lizzy Ortiz, City of Springfield, Dorothy Pink, VOC, Nelson Roman, Enlace de Familias, Laura Saponare, Catholic Charities, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Lauren Voyer, HAPHousing, Phyllis White, Franklin Hampshire Career Center

DHCD Update: Due to the snow storms and the continued shut-down of the Boston area, Bonnie Caldwell could not make it to this meeting. The central office is creating an emergency system to deal with shelter placement during this shut-down.

For Families update: Faith Lafayette could not attend but relayed the following update via email:
FOR Families has re-entered the Days/Holyoke to provide intensive outreach services, and the initial meeting took place with DHCD, DCF, NEFWC and CHD on 2/4/15.  Referrals from that meeting total approximately 1/3 of the hotel population (as of 2/3/15 the total population was 36 families).  The handful of remaining families at Days/Chicopee have been transferred across the street to QI/Chicopee and the remaining family at QI/WS has been transferred to the Holyoke Hotel/Holyoke.  This leaves 7 active EA hotels in Western MA.  At this time FF is providing outreach services to 6 of these, totaling 105 of the 256 hotel EA families.

Efforts to expand the new FF role is happening statewide, with the SE having just embarked, and 1 hotel in the NE operating similarly.  This new role has allowed for more intensive family work to be conducted, resulting in increased coordination with DCF, medical and MH providers (local and out of region) as well as school systems.  The coordination has supported family engagement with community providers, follow through with service plan goals, and management of truancy related issues to a much greater degree.  FF continues to submit ADA requests and childcare referrals with and for families on our caseload.

Lauren Voyer noted that For Families’ focus on families at risk is working very well.

Secure Jobs update:

Pamela shared the Network congratulations on a successful event last Friday (2/6) when almost 20 legislators, 7 mayors and 150 others came together to celebrate the success of Secure Jobs and its program participants and business partners. We made an excellent case for continued funding next fiscal year.

Co-sheltering discussion:
In light of the media coverage around the placement of homeless families in Springfield, we discussed the situation. DHCD’s co-sheltering policy has also been a topic of public discussion and Lauren Voyer of HAPHousing ane Jane Banks of CHD offered their experience with the model.

Lauren described the 2 housing situations HAP runs in the co-housing model. They are called residential resource centers. One has 18 units with 36 families; apartments designed to house more than one family – a living room in the middle, 2 bedrooms on one end for a family with more than one child and one bedroom on the other end for a mother and small child (this model is not suitable for large families). On site there is a unit devoted to programming where providers come on-site to offer support and services (mental and physical health, financial education, parenting classes).

The model has been tremendously successful. Since the beginning of FY2015, there have been 52 placements out of shelter, and 31 of those have been out of the residential resource center; 50% of placements overall is an excellent indicator.

Jane Banks of CHD offered CHD’s experience. Jane pointed out that the c-shelter molder began in 2010 and 2011 as a way to move families out of motels into more supportive living situations. She echoed Lauren that the model is very successful in providing intensive services on-site.

Many people expressed their concern with Mayor Sarno’s messaging around families experiencing homelessness, that the language of “dumping” and more was deeply unfair to families and fostered negative associations that are damaging to both children and parents.   There was some discussion about whether the Network has a role to play in better educating the Mayor. Pamela said she would talk about this with Gerry and report back.

Other updates:

Fran Lemay: Greenfield right now has 48 50 families living in motels, down from 85 in September; about 20 families currently are local. No out of town families have been coming in for the last couple of months. Expanding by 16 total shelter units in the next few months.

Erin Forbush: Berkshire County has one co-shelter unit with 2 families. Is in the process of putting new co-shelter units online.
co-shelter unit

Current family count in hotels in Hampden County:

Chicopee – 61
Springfield 30
Holyoke 123
Westfield 1

Steve Huntley: VOC – still screening families for its new permanent supportive housing units. VOC is in process of re-opening its Main Street shelter which offers 14 units.

Next meeting: Tuesday, 3/10, 9:30 am, Northampton Senior Center.

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