The core of the Family Workgroup met today at the DTA/DHCD office in Holyoke.  Participants included staff from the ICHH-funded entities, DHCD and DTA.  Now that our ICHH-funded entities have been selected, we wanted to take the next steps toward creating a coordinated system of services which includes both the providers and the state agencies.  The purpose of this meeting was to talk specifically around provider/state coordination around the funded grants.

Key notes from the meeting:

  • PVRVC is finalizing issues regarding payment mechanism and reporting.  Once these are in place, funded agencies can do to contract and begin spending funds.
  • DTA and DHCD reported on the EA changeover and how it impacts families seeking prevention, diversion and shelter/rapid rehousing.  The Western Mass DHCD EA contingent has 5 front line workers: two at the Liberty St. DTA office in Springfield, two at the DTA office in Holyoke, and one who works out of the DTA offices in Greenfield, Pittsfield and North Adams.  When a family seeks homelessness/EA assistance, they present at the DTA office.  A DTA worker does an initial quick screen, which includes eligibility for cash assistance and food stamps.  The DTA worker then refers the family to the DHCD worker, who is located in the same building.  The DHCD worker comes the uniform assessment tool, explores diversion options, and determines eligibility.
  • ICHH funds will present another tool for diversion.  The vision is that these new prevention/diversion funds will be well-coordinated with the DHCD assessment.  The conversation today included issues of ICHH staff having space at DTA/DHCD offices, and providing cell phone access to DHCD workers.
  • The group agreed that common development of policies, protocals and forms would be helpful.

Next steps:

  • The family group will meet on the second Tuesday of the month, 1-3 pm, at the Holyoke DTA office, 100 Front Street.  The next meeting is Tuesday, September 8th, 1-3 pm.
  • Between now and then, sub-groups by geographical area will meet to sort out issues related to coverage, i.e., how to ensure the quickest, most thorough service to consumers in the face of multiple providers serving the same area.  Additionally, providers will begin discussion about how to best support DHCD workers in their respective offices across the region.  VOC, NEFWC and HAP are meeting tomorrow, Wed., 8/5, 10:30 am at the VOC office at 225 High St, 4th floor, to discuss Hampden County.  Franklin County providers (Community Action and Franklin County Regional Housing Authority) will arrange a meeting, as will HAP with Community Action re: Hampshire County.  Pamela Schwartz will follow-up separately with Elton, Brad and Dave regarding Berkshire County.
  • At the statewide regional meeting of network coordinators on 8/10, Pamela will ask ICHH about the universal asssesment form and a documentation form.  she will also inquire about the flexibility of the funds regarding the tier allocations.

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