On Wednesday, September 9, over 30 members of our Network from the four western counties and all walks of life, gathered to discuss and make decisions about our Network structure. In addition to the 30 people present, many more expressed their regrets at not being able to attend and their commitment to being involved, which is to say: we’ve got ourselves a hearty Network! We are on our way to making a real impact on homelessness in western Massachusetts.
Before providing minutes below, please note that we have available the Western region’s ICHH funded providers directory. You can see the universe of the families and individuals this pilot project plans to serve and where, and who to contact if if you would like to make connections, referrals or exchange information and ideas.
Network Building Meeting
Note: All of the agreements noted below are the basis for recommendations to the Leadership Council, subject to their approval or amendment at the Council’s next meeting on September 30th.
The Leadership Council
The group reviewed and approved of the current composition (please see the powerpoint here for a list of current members, as well as the Council structure and related committees). It also noted the need to increase representation among political, business and faith-based leaders. At the same time, everyone recognized the pitfalls of managing too large a group (initial concept stated 35 members; we are now up to 40, although many have yet to be actually engaged). Chair Evan Dobelle suggested we create a category of ex-officio members for those who can offer support by lending their names and attending an annual meeting.
We also agreed we need to revisit the concept of a Consumer Advisory Group to ensure adequate consumer input. And there was universal recognition of the need to clearly state needs and expectations of LC members; that without a distinct “ask”, it can be more difficult to engage and participate.
We reviewed the overall mission of the Leadership Council: to provide oversight and coordination of the Network’s efforts; to hold the Network and its members, grantees, and supporters accountable for accomplishing its stated goals and to further on a policy and programmatic level the goal of ending homelessness.
We reviewed the Committees of the Leadership Council:
Services Coordination Committees, Family and Individual
We noted that these committees were underway with broad participation by providers. The Family Services Committee is meeting regularly on the 2nd Tuesday of the month. The Individual Services providers are meeting on a county level on a monthly basis. We agreed that now that all ICHH individual services funding has been awarded, David Modzelewski (DMH) and I would bring the individual services providers together on a regional level in the next couple of weeks.
Data and Performance Measurement Committee
Action: Convene Committee ASAP to hire data analyst and begin laying groundwork for programwide data collection and evaluation.
Community Engagement Committee
We agreed to wait to convene this Committee until the Leadership Council met on 9/30, when it will make decisions about additional active and ex officio members. We agreed that it is important to use this committee to involve leaders in the political, business and religious communities across the four counties, and that its role is to promote the Network to ensure its sustainability politically and financially in furtherance of its ultimate goal.
We agreed on the constitution of this Committee, which will guide the overall work of the Network and provide on-the-ground support and guidance to the regional coordinator. It will include:
Leadership Council Chair
Leadership Council Vice Chair
4 Committee Chairs (Family Services, Individual Services, Data and Community Engagement)
3 Continua of Care Coordinators (Springfield, Hampden/Hampshire/Franklin County, Berkshire County)
State Agency representation (to be further specified after checking with DHCD/ICHH expectations and discussing with currently active agency participants)
We agreed to be vigilant about geographical representation on the Committee, i.e., committee chairs reflect that diversity.
Western Mass Interagency Council (WMIC)
Liz Sullivan of DMH and convenor of WMIC presented the background of WMIC, how it got started in 2005 and the function it has served. The question presented to the group was if and how WMIC would continue in the context of the Network. After excellent discussion, the group agreed:
- WMIC has been an extremely important vehicle for bringing together state agencies and providers across the region and has a history and reputation we want to protect and maintain.
- The importance of growing interagency participation towards accomplishing the Network’s goals is vital and WMIC, in conjunction with the Leadership Council, is an important vehicle for communicating this priority.
- At this point in the Network’s development, WMIC should continue to exist as is, both separate and connected to the Network. As the Network evolves in the coming months, we will take stock of the relationship and reassess if/how WMIC’s role would change.