Family Services Committee Meeting Minutes

Attendance: Jim Reis, HAP, Janet Lindfors, DTA domestic violence unit, Tom Salter, New England Farm Workers  Council,  Jane Banks, CHD, JD Hebert, BCAC, Barbara Bonnett, BCAC, Martha Ceplikas, DHCD, Andrea Miller, CHD, Tammie Butler, Community Action, Toni Hochstadt,  Community Action, Brad Gordon, Berkshire Regional Housing Authority, Cris Carl, Greenfield Family Inn, Joanne Glier, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Carmen Roman, DCF, Eneida Madho, DCF,  Yeisie Mateo, DCF, Suzanne Smith, network data analyst, Pamela Schwartz, regional coordinator

DCF/provider collaboration

Special thanks to Carmen Roman, DCF supervisor, Eneida Madho of the Springfield DCF office, and Yeisie Mateo of the Holyoke DCF office for their informative presentation regarding the process of assessing families’ needs for shelter.

The DCF noted their need to know of available resources and happily received in hand the most recent version of the Network’s resource directory (with guidance to get on the blog to continue to stay updated).  We agreed to stay connected through the blog and the family services email list to ensure collaboration occurs whenever possible.

Brad Gordon requested a copy of the DCF assessment tool so that providers could better understand the criteria DCF was looking at.  Carmen said she would ask whether she can distribute that information and get back to us.

Jane Lindfors noted the FOR Families resource guide and how it contains references to a wide variety of services.  Network members agreed that we could use this, too!  Jane will follow-up with the information.

Distribution of resources across the region:  We discussed the need for clarity around the sharing of resources across city and county lines, specifically when  a Springfield-based family is placed in a Berkshire County shelter, wanting to find housing in Springfield.  In view of the loss of DHCD tool box and flex funds, the only possible assistance is via Springfield HPRP funds (since Pittsfield HPRP funds are limited to families who would reside in Pittsfield). Jim Reis of HAP was about to meet with Gerry McCafferty of the Springfield Housing Dept. to discuss this precise issue. Note: the decision has since been made by the Springfield Housing Dept. that Springfield HPRP funds can be used for rehousing in this and other similar instances.

Triage Model Planning: We decided as a group to pursue thinking and planning around the implementation of a triage model in Western Mass (a la South Shore Network, enabling local control over shelter placements and subsequent rapid rehousing).   Providers will use DHCD’s 3/15 deadline to submit a long-term plan as an opportunity to declare our intention to create a pilot project for this region.  We will continue to talk quickly and intensively over the next few days to clarify our strategy and approach at this early stage.  Note:  we have schedule a next planning meeting for Tuesday, 3/16, and we will submit a paragraph stating our intention around the triage model in the 3/15 DHCD submission.

Domestic Violence Outreach: Toni Hochstadt of Community Action noted that she is getting a lot of calls from DV shelters looking for rehousing funds (although CA is funded only to provide prevention).  We agreed that this raises the larger issue of bringing our region’s DV providers around the table.  Pamela is meeting with NELCWIT (Franklin County) on Thursday, 3/11.  Jane Lindfors of DTA DV unit will facilitate an email of introduction between Pamela and all the DV shelter providers and Pamela will reach out to all and invite their participation in family services meetings.

Franklin County rehousing funds: With the end of DHCD tool box and flex funds, Franklin County is left without any rehousing resources since it did not receive any HPRP funds.  Bob Pulster noted the gap at our regional meeting on 2/25 and made the suggestion that something could be done about this gap.  Franklin County providers and the network will continue to follow-up on this.

Monthly reporting check: We confirmed our measure of counting families served in our monthly reports to ICHH:  an intervention, whether cash assistance or services provided, that resulted in the prevention of homelessness or rehousing from homelessness.

Data update by Suzanne Smith

Suzanne is developing an infrastructure to create an integrated database that would pull in data from 3 CoCs, monthly reports to ICHH,  housing records of service, and provide a more in-depth understanding of DHCD data.  Goal is baseline data to show incidence and prevalence rates, to look at sustainability, length of stay, and ultimately provide feedback as to how we’re doing.  Suzanne will bring an initial round of data to next family services meeting on 4/13 for review and discussion.

Next meeting:  4/13, 1 pm, Holyoke DTA office.

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