Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes
October 21, 2014

In attendance: Toni Bator, HAPHousing, Debbie Bellucci, STCC, Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Ken Demers, BerkshireWorks, Harry Duchesne, NEFWC, Joanne Glier, DTA, Donna Harris, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Sean Hemingway, CHD, Lisa Lapierre, CPM Secure Jobs, Ses Lopez, SJC/CareerPoint, Darlene Morse, SJC/CareerPoint, Melissa Mateus, Springfield Partners, Bill Mulholland, Berkshire Community College, Konrad Rogowski, FutureWorks, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Robin Sherman, FCRHRA, Rep. Aaron Vega, Holyoke

National Summit Report

Pamela, Phyllis and Lisa reported out on their trip (with Lynne Wallace and Dave Gadaire as part of the team as well) to Washington, DC on 10/16 to participate in the national summit on jobs programs for homeless job seekers. The event, co-sponsored by the Butler Family Fund, Dept. of Labor, HUD, and US Interagency Council on Homelessness, included 11 selected communities from across the country. We continued to feel very proud of our program in the company of others!  The day was hard-working and intended to give very concrete recommendations to federal agencies on how to break through federal policy barriers and better serve this population. Labor Secretary Perez and HUD Secretary Castro both attended to hear those recommendations. A Western Mass.’s recommendation was selected to be heard by the Secretaries: to address the loss of the precipitous loss of the safety net – the immediate reduction in cash assistance and SNAP benefits and increase of parent child care fees – when heads of household are just beginning to work and become stable, thereby threatening their housing stability altogether. Lisa shared the problem and recommendation directly to the Secretaries, as well as offered the 5 minute “speed round” talk about our program to the audience of several hundred. Lisa did a fantastic job and we all congratulated her for her excellent representation of our program.

Next steps: The US ICHH will be in touch to follow-up about continuing collaboration and exchange of ideas.

On the state level, Lisa spoke with Sue Beaton who offered to support our effort to better understand the nature of these policy barriers around the safety net loss, specifically what is federally or state driven and what is regulatory or legislatively determined. There has been some confusion about that from the state and federal agencies and we know we need to invest time and resources into gaining our own understanding.

We agreed we would establish a sub-committee to flesh out the list of issues and barriers to research. Lisa, Pamela, Robin Sherman and Jane Banks (volunteered in absentia) will meet to develop this further.

We also agreed to revisit the notion of inviting the DEEC Commissioner out to speak with our region about the prevailing child care barriers. Pamela and Lisa will follow-up with Sue Beaton to discuss this further.

 An invitation to the Melville Trust Secure Jobs kick-off

Pamela and Lisa reported that they have been invited to participate in the CT Secure Jobs Kick-off, hosted by the Melville Foundation, on November 7. The CT effort is modeled on the MA success and we look forward to sharing our experience with them.

Program Updates

Lisa distributed and we reviewed the monthly progress reports. Click here and here to review.

Additional comments:

  • CareerPoint will connect with first year Secure Jobs clients to provide additional job development services. This is an exciting development and a wonderful example of cross-program/cross-funding stream collaboration.
  • The Commonwealth Corp funders agreed to some contract changes to better reflect the employment reality in the region, increasing the allowance for part-time work, creating more opportunities for employment, especially in Franklin/Hampshire Counties.
  • We noted all the exciting opportunities posed by the child care job employment training that Lisa has facilitated, including creating a path to employment, more child care capacity in the region and inherent support for the participants own parenting skills. What a great innovation!
  • Toni Bator of HAP noted that DHCD just awarded $60K to supplement the DHCD grant (from the $500K legislative appropriation in the FY15 budget). These funds will be used to support a staff person in Lisa’s program to assist with data, obtaining child care vouchers and other services, as well as provide resources for supplemental child care.
  • CareerPoint has hired a financial literacy specialist to focus on hard-to-serve populations and this person will work in participation with this DHCD grant.
  • The DHCD contract goals are in the process of being amended to a lower number to better reflect the workings of this model. Initial numbers provided were based on the merger of the HAP/CareerPoint model with the initial Secure Jobs model, and the HAP model at that time did not include focus on job retention and related data needs. Since realizing that the models are not transferable, we have calculated a reduction in the estimated numbers to be employed that is more in line with our previous program’s numbers and other programs statewide. Liz Rogers, the DHCD liaison, is in agreement and the process is underway. The new Hampden County numbers will be: 100 enrollments; 80 entered employments
    64 job retentions. Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire numbers will remain the same.

Update on MRVP lottery for Secure Jobs Participants

In the FY15 budget, 75 MRPVs were set aside for Secure Jobs participants. They will be distributed on a lottery basis by geographic region (numbers per region determined by demographics). 41 Western MA Secure Jobs clients entered this lottery. Clients had to have been enrolled on or before 7/1 and in the program for at least 3 months and in good standing with the program.

We agreed it would be extremely valuable to track the impact of the MRVP on job retention, as well as the actual utility of the voucher based on a client’s income (i.e,. how frequently the scenario arises of a client with an MRVP making “too much” to be eligible for a subsidy while still struggling to pay rent).

Referral flow challenges and possible outreach plans

We discussed the challenge the new DHCD program (SJI) is facing regarding sufficient client referrals. At CareerPoint’s last scheduled group orientation only 5 job seekers attended despite over 70 referrals being distributed to clients. However, we noted that the nature of the outreach and recruitment was not sufficient. Lisa and Darlene have been doing targeted follow-up to prospective clients through phone calls and immediately finding different results. All agreed that it is “not enough” to hand a client a piece of paper suggesting they show up at CareerPoint to launch a job search and development process; more targeted interaction and intervention are necessary.

There was some discussion of CareerPoint hiring an outreach worker specifically for this task, some expressed concern that this would be duplicative (or not the best use of resources) and instead we should focus on building the connections between the housing stabilization/support staff workers and this program. Lisa also believes their program’s targeted follow-up is critical for a connection and turn-out to occur. They will continue to test that approach in the coming weeks.

Other ideas brainstormed for outreach include the development of a peer mentoring model, including having program participants speak to groups of prospective participants (noted there should be a stipend involved).

In Franklin County, referrals to Franklin Hampshire Career Center are coming through Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, and this is working very well: 14 people recently enrolled; 8 currently placed in jobs; and a total of 50 are employed thus far.

In Berkshire County, Ken Demers, newly installed as executive director of BerkshireWorks, is in conversation with Brad Gordon of Berkshire Regional Housing Authority (BRHA) and they are getting their referral systems in place. Lisa is in the process of hiring a case manager to assist with the Berkshire program. They are kicking off their program on November 7.

Brad Gordon asked (via Ken Demers and Pamela) for the group to revisit the issue of BRHA’s request for some small compensation for the cost of the referral/administrative piece of this work. Robin Sherman noted that when the DHCD grant proposal was developed, there was an understanding that this piece of the work would not be compensated through this grant and the cost was not written into it. Pamela said she would share this feedback with Brad. Everyone recognized the cost to the agencies but noted the resources did not currently exist to pay for it.

2nd annual Secure Jobs Celebration

We discussed and agreed that we wanted to plan to follow-up last year’s successful gathering of legislators and state officials to celebrate Secure Jobs success and honor participating businesses. We will do it again! We also discussed expanding our reach to an even broader audience, including major employers and other businesses groups such as the Rotary Club and Chambers of Commerce (not necessarily yet connected to the program)

We brainstormed a tentative date of Friday, 2/6. We also discussed the possible need for a space larger than the Kittredge Center, but Pamela felt that capacity of 175 is likely enough (and better to have “full” effect than empty). We agreed we would start on our outreach and save the date and take stock of space later. Meanwhile, Pamela will inquire of the Kittredge Center to see if it is available.

Next meeting date:

Tuesday, 11/18, 3:30-5:00 pm, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, 176 Industrial Drive, Northampton

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