Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Meeting
October 5, 2016

In attendance: Ashley Brehm, HAP, Bud Delphin, Dawn DiStefano, Square One, CareerPoint, George Kohout, STCC, Representative Peter Kocot, Joanne LaCour, DTA, Lisa Lapierre, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Madeline Martinez, HAP, Maegan Pedemonti, HAP, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Maricelli Serrano, BerkshireWorks, Chris Skerritt, HAP, Representative Aaron Vega

Secure Jobs Progress Report – September 2016
Click here for report.
32 placements thus far this fiscal year (total goal for year – 37 – will far exceed!)
413 placements over all years
$12.61 average wage for September
$11.98 for the year thus far – making steady progress on increasing hourly wage

Housing retention data newly available and the numbers show:
41 families in job placements through Secure Jobs have moved from HomeBase subsidies to private market apartments
56 families living in shelter have been placed (and are in process of moving to housing)
4 families have moved from shelter to HomeBase to private housing

Representative Kocot inquired about the families being served in Franklin, Hampshire and Berkshire Counties. Ashley noted that HAP is entering into performance based contracts with Franklin/Hampshire Career Center and BerkshireWorks; families will have access to same support on an as needed basis.

Representative Kocot was interested to know the numbers of families who would qualify for Secure Jobs services in the 3 county region (i.e., what is the need). Pamela will follow-up with Representative Kocot to provide some additional data on the population.

Update on DHCD/DTA discussion re: future agency home for Secure Jobs
Pamela and Ashley reported on last week’s statewide “Learning Lab” at DHCD where the agenda focused on the question of whether Secure Jobs will move to DTA for its agency home. Linn Torto, Executive Director of the MA ICHH, is spearheading conversation among all the relevant state agencies on this question, and both ICHH and DHCD are committed to program participation in this discussion and decision. We learned that DTA is interested in this possibility and it may provide greater leveraging of resources and greater advocacy benefiting the families Secure Jobs serves. At the same time, there is concern that not all families served by SJ are “DTA families” (i.e., eligible for their benefits, TAFDC or SNAP), that the criteria for eligibility is based on DHCD’s EA eligibility. There was also discussion about having DHCD and DTA enter MOU’s to ensure a shared understanding of the terms of cooperation and collaboration. Linn is scheduling a meeting with the DTA commissioner and there will be representatives from each of the SJ programs invited to attend. We will keep the group posted on the discussion as it unfolds.

Both Representative Kocot and Representative Vega noted that they are not concerned about where the program lives per se but how best to break down silos and serve all families in need.

Policy Discussion:

We discussed the most pressing policy issues impacting Secure Jobs’ success: child care, public transportation, language barriers (demand for more ESL courses), and housing resources.

In terms of Secure Jobs’ viability, it is key to maintain flexibility around use of resources that will best meet families’ barriers to housing (e.g., from paying back rent to fixing a car).

On child care, the low rate of reimbursement by EEC is such that centers are closing across the state (including in our region); they simply can’t afford to stay open with such a low rate and with a policy that only pays for children if they attend on a given day (so missed days go unpaid; extremely difficult to run a center on that basis).

The need for greater public transportation to serve workers on later shifts and in rural areas everywhere poses an immense barrier.

On language learning, there is not enough capacity in the ESL programs to meet the need. At the same time, WIOA is demanding a move away from language support, instead focusing on the “job ready,” those dislocated, laid off workers.

Lisa Lapierre – public transportation – the problems related to public transportation and the impact on job accessibility are well-documented.

Rep. Kocot and Rep. Vega shared their wish that the region could come together and prioritize how to best serve this population so there would be less competition every budget season. We acknowledged that the Network attempts to do precisely that but at the same time while there is generalized sign-on of priorities, each organization also maintains its own priorities. With limited resources and pressing need, this tension is almost impossible to avoid. But we will take their feedback and continue the dialogue on how best to coordinate our asks. We will continue the conversation at our next meeting (11/2, 11:12:30); will explore Holyoke Computer Center as alternative meeting location.

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