The Core Group, along with Jim Mazik and Lynne Wallace, met with Bob Pulster via conference call today regarding the proposed grant budget and scope. There are several things to report from the call, and a need for us to do some additional revisions to the budget and scope. The Core Group will continue to work in a liaison capacity representing the Leadership Council and the sub-counties of the Western Massachusetts region and the respective Continua of Care.  The Core Group will dissolve shortly after the contracting process is completed with the ICHH and the administrative function of the convening agency is clarified.  Jim Mazik from the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, the RCN convening agency will remain engaged with the Core Group and the ICHH Director Bob Pulster to ensure the contract is executed in a timely manner.  Lynne Wallace, co-chair of the Leadership Council will maintain liaison between the Council the Core Group and the ICHH to assist in dissemination of information to the Leadership Council members.

What we learned today:

1. The goal is to have all contracts executed by the last week in February or first week in March.

2. The grant period will be 18 months from the start date of the contract, with the possibility of a 6-month extension if funds are not all expended.

3. Just after grant execution, the ICHH will require us to give them a finalized list of Leadership Council members, Leadership Council officers, and a schedule of meeting dates throughout the contract period.

4. The ICHH expects to additionally fund a process and qualitative evaluation component to assist the development of the network and leadership council.

5. Next steps for the ICHH include bringing the regional Leadership Councils together statewide to promote and share best practices regarding policies & procedure, network design, individual and family interventions, civic engagement and systems change.

6. There will be two components of the Feb. 19 Lieutenant Governor’s visit: a 30 minute meeting with the Leadership Council, followed by a public network and press event: a kick-off for our initiative demonstrating the support from state government.

Feedback on our budget and scope of services:

1. The ICHH is concerned that the amount of funding going to staff is very high, given the Commission’s recommendation that there be no new bureaucracies. Bob asked that we bring down staff costs for the total grant to no more than 50% of the grant funding, which would bring us in line with the other pilots around the state. We made the point that we are looking to provide intensive supportive services on both the individual and family sides, and that this support is very staff intensive. Bob had previously expressed interest in our REACH for families pilot, and we indicated that the requirement to bring staff costs under 50% would likely mean that we would need to eliminate this pilot. Bob will give this further consideration. We pointed out to Bob that our network is interested in promoting as much innovation and creativity as possible and that we are looking to network providers to propose the best use of funds with the least restriction.

2. We will need to provide further clarification about the number of families served and average or approximate cost per family; preferably, broken out by Tier.

3. We will need to submit a budget justification page providing the assumptions that have gone into assigning the budget amounts that we have to each item. (We previously had this in the budget-e.g., Tier 4 REACH services at average of $10,000 per participant-so it should be fairly easy to put this together.)

4. We will need to define the cost of our staff consultant positions as amount per hour and number of hours. This is part of our overall administrative support to the network.

5. We need to provide a timeline, in 6-month increments, which includes benchmarks. This was done in the original grant application and will need to be updated to reflect the revised budget and scope of services. Allocation of funding will be tied to meeting benchmarks beyond an initial release of start up funds.

Biggest challenge to our revision:

Bob was very clear that the network will not be allowed to spend more than 50% of the grant budget for staff salaries. This may require additional revisions to our proposal. The revised proposal we had submitted to Bob, and substantially agreed upon last Friday, indicates 66% of the funds go toward these items. Bob was very open to our ideas and appears to be quite flexible within reason. He will report back to us regarding the Family REACH project while we re-examine the staff salary options in order to submit a final budget.

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