Secure Jobs Connect Advisory Committee
Meeting Minutes
May 6, 2014

 In attendance: Toni Bator, HAPHousing, Debbie Bellucci, Springfield Technical Community College, Ken Demers, New England Farmworkers Council, Lisa Lapierre, Secure Jobs Connect, Kasha Liggett, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Melissa Mateus, Springfield Partners for Community action, Darlene Morse, CareerPoint, Rexene Picard, Future Works, Shannon Porter, HAPHousing, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Jay Sacchetti, ServiceNet, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Alyce Stiles, Greenfield Community College, Representative Aaron Vega, Ken White, Holyoke Community College, Phyllis White, Hampshire/Franklin Career Center

SJC Final Data Report and Final Progress Report (For Progress Report click here; for final data report, click here)

The first year of Fireman Foundation funding is complete. Thanks to Andrea Miller for providing the data review and progress reports throughout this project!

Shannon noted the amazing retention numbers; they are indicative of the excellent work (a big nod to Lisa, Darlene and Mike) and the commitment of the participants.

Lisa noted that she presented some of the data at a meeting last week of the Commonwealth Workforce Coalition. Secure Jobs Connect did a presentation on its collaboration with Square One around employment and child care, sharing client successes.

Ken noted that due to its leveraging of funds throughout the project, Year One dollars remain. Fireman Foundation is allowing SJC to continue to enroll and place Home Base families until the funds are totally expended. Remaining funds will also be used to support child care and transportation and trainings for working families.

Update on summer child care/camp needs

Lisa reported that SJC has identified 5 families who have summer child care needs. SJC is in contact with DEEC and has a meeting set up next week to further discuss child care access for these families. Sue Beaton of Fireman and Liz Rogers of ICHH are also working with DEEC on a high level to address child care needs in Western Mass. (and across the state) for working families.

Toni Bator of HAP reported out that of its recently employed families, it was determined that 11 children will require day care and 13 children will require summer camp this summer.   The big challenge is day care/camp capacity. Working closely with Square One but there are space limits. They are continuing to reach out to all the relevant agencies to find slots, and will continue to get more clear on how best to meet families summer needs to maintain employment stability.

Shannon and Lisa noted DTA’s active support on this issue. They have been a fantastic resource in problem-solving around child care needs. A big nod to Joanne Glier of the DTA!

Rep. Vega inquired about VOC’s role in meeting these families’ day care needs. Lisa explained that there are no available day care slots there at this time, but that they are participating in the Square One teacher certification process.

Western Homeless Employment Network (WHEN) Update (Commonwealth Corporation funded program):

Focusing on Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire counties with new partners Franklin/Hampshire Career Center and Construct in Great Barrington The project is still starting up but so far 1 person has entered employment and 2 others are currently in trainings. Good progress so far.

Secure Jobs Connect Initiative (DHCD funded program):

Congratulations to the region for securing the maximum grant of $250,000 to continue the partnerships established through Secure Jobs Connect and HAP, CareerPoint and FutureWorks. This is a fantastic vote of confidence in the work we have done thus far and for the even greater impact that lies ahead. A big thanks to the Fireman Foundation for providing the initial investment to make all of this possible.

At our next advisory committee meeting, HAP will share more detail on the performance measures for the grant. Expenditures on the grant will begin 7/1, although reporting will begin as of 4/15/14.

Veterans Update

Melissa Mateus and Katasha Leggett of Springfield Partners for Community Action shared information around the employment services they provide for both veterans and Home Base families. They provide a full range of services, from job readiness to case management. Secure Jobs Connect and HAP already cross-refer.

Pamela also noted that Veterans Inc provides similar services to veterans. Pamela also shared an update around the Network’s veterans committee reaching out to DHCD around connecting on veterans resources for homeless families. As a result, VA reps will be attending a meeting at HAP in the next couple of weeks with all housing/hotel providers to provide additional information.

Rexene Picard of Future Works noted the career center’s designated veterans staff person and the fact that the career centers are slated to get an additional designated veterans staff person in the coming months.

Secure Jobs Connect Line-Item in the House Budget for $500,000

The House budget contained a $500,000 line item for Secure Jobs, a very exciting step towards institutionalizing Secure Jobs as a part of the State Budget. We all offered a big round of applause to Rep. Vega (and Rep. Kocot in absentia) for their incredible support of this initiative. We will continue to advocate for its passage in the Senate.

Rep. Vega pointed out that with the number of statewide offices up for election (chief among them the governor!), we need to prioritize questions to the candidates regarding their proposals around responding to homelessness, including this jobs program.

Robin Sherman pointed out that threshold question is whether the candidate is talking about ways to address the underlying issue of poverty.

Candidates also need to provide their job creation plan; we must create more jobs as well as affordable housing.

Network budget earmark update

Pamela provided an update around the House budget’s inclusion of a $125,000 earmark for the Western Mass. Network to End Homelessness. These funds would allow the Network to grow its capacity as a resource for data analysis and evaluation of homelessness related efforts across the four counties. The Network would base its blueprint on the US Interagency Council of Homelessness’ Open Doors Plan to End Homelessness, leveraging federal resources to better enable Western Mass. to implement to best practices across the region.   Pamela thanked Rep. Kocot for his leadership on this amendment, as well as Rep. Vega’s active support and the leadership of Vice Chair Kulik and support of Rep. Scibak.

Rep. Vega recommended that we reach out to Senators Rosenberg, Downing and Humason in anticipation of the Senate budget.

Other announcements:

Melissa distributed information on a jobs fair being held by Springfield Partners on 5/22, from 5-7 pm at Springfield Partners.

Next meeting: Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 3:30 at the Franklin/Hampshire Career Center. Phyllis will confirm if space is available.

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