Secure Jobs Advisory Committee
September 16, 2014

In attendance: Toni Bator, HAPHousing, Deb Bellucci, STCC, Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Ken Demers, NEFWC, Harry Duchesne, NEFWC, Joanne Glier, DTA, Donna Harris, Franklin/Hampshire Career Center, Lisa Lapierre, CPM/Secure Jobs, Kim Lee, Square One, Darlene Morse, Career Point, Bill Mulholland, Berkshire Community College, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Robin Sherman, Franklin county Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Diana Szynal, Rep. Kocot’s office, Phyllis White, Franklin/Hamsphire Career Center

Program review:  Lisa provided hand-outs summarizing program updates.  Click here and here to review. Lisa reviewed the status of each funded program – Fireman Foundation, Commonwealth Corporation, DHCD. She also discussed the FY 2015 state budget allocation of $500,000 to Secure Jobs. Half of that will be allocated to launching a program in Central Mass (the only remaining region without a SJ project) and the other is being divided among the current programs. HAP/CPM just submitted a $60,000 proposal to support an additional hire at CPM (to assist Lisa in the running of the program) and additional child care costs.

Current challenges:

  • Resolving issues with Comm Corp around invoicing (administrative details). As a result, numbers of clients employed are actually higher than reflected in the report (since tracking/billing was temporarily stalled).
  • Transition to Secure Jobs Initiative (SJI, new DHCD funded program) has seen some bumps around merging the HAP/CareerPoint project of last year with current Secure Jobs program model. The challenges have arisen from a combination of a difference in client flow and new data demands (consistent with the Brandeis evaluation needs). Darlene Morse of CareerPoint is moving from her base at CPM back to CareerPoint (although a new hire will take her place at CPM) in order to provide more hands-on assistance with the data needs. Systems are being adjusted to ensure that clients have secured child care (primarily a DTA voucher) prior to being enrolled in a CP cohort so as to ensure continuity of day care for placement (and to avoid spending private funds on child care).

Current successes:

  • Lisa provided an update on her child care employment initiative – currently 16 students (5 currently living in shelter) are attending a child growth and development program in partnership with Playful Minds, LC. They are working towards their certification hours. This is a very exciting combination of building career opportunities while expanding child care capacity in the region. Great job, Lisa!
  • Lisa distributed Brandeis’ near final draft of its one year evaluation report (once the final is issued, it will be posted on the blog) . It offers a great synopsis of the exceptional impact of Secure Jobs across the state in general and in our region in particular. We noted the data gap for tracking housing stability in relation to employment. This was addressed at the recent statewide Secure Jobs meeting and DHCD has committed to exploring ways for Secure Jobs clients to be tagged within their ETO data system to allow for easier tracking. All agreed that this data is critical to demonstrating the relationship between employment and housing stability.

The child care barrier: We discussed at length the various child care challenges facing our clients. If a client is not TAFDC eligible, it is extremely difficult to obtain child care assistance. There are not enough DHCD child care slots in Western Mass., and for those who do have them, they expire in one year. For TAFDC recipients, their child care voucher is only available up until 1 year after their TAFDC case closes (if they have not yet found employment).   Another issue is the parent fees (which rise upon employment) and the fact that MRVP does not account for that cost when calculating the tenant rent portion. Right now, we have one client who has an MRVP voucher and must choose between paying child care or her utility bills because her parent fees are not included in her rent calculation. Fireman’s support has been absolutely critical to sustaining child care for parents enrolled in Secure Jobs. How to tackle these issues?

On the issue of parent fees and MRVP calculation, Robin Sherman suggested that due to the relatively small numbers impacted, this problem may best be solved philanthropically (as is currently the case). And she suggested to track the cases and the private dollars required to keep the clients housed and use the data to promote state and federal policy fixes.

US Interagency Council on Homelessness national summit on “Opening Partnerships” around employment and homelessness.

Pamela provided an update on Western MA invitation to participate in this summit as 1 of 12 communities invited from across the country. This is very exciting testimony to the great work of Secure Jobs. The summit is on Oct. 16 in Washington, DC. Lisa, Pamela, David Gadaire and Lynne Wallace are attending and will prepare for the summit. We look forward to bringing back some good information and ideas!

Robin suggested that we make sure we have our “elevator statement” on what we have accomplished, why it’s relevant and what we need to expand our model. Consider what we would do with additional resources, i.e., how many more people we would serve versus how we would more fully support the people we are currently serving in order to better assure stability. This raises complex questions of what it takes to break the cycle of generational poverty.

Other announcements:

Robin provided an update on DHCD’s new policy of bringing more intensive case management to hotels in Holyoke, Chicopee and Greenfield. Case managers will be on site 7 days/week from afternoon until night. This is a very promising development for families and communities.

Next meeting:
Tuesday, October 21, 3:30 pm, HCC, exact location to be confirmed


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