Career Services Committee Meeting Minutes – 11/5/19
In attendance:  Shawntsi Baret, Springfield Works, Iliana Caez, MassHire Springfield, Bud Delphin, MassHire Holyoke,  Kermit Dunkelberg, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, Community Action, Anne Kandilis, Springfield Works, Kathryn Kirby, MassHire HCWB, Lisa Lapierre, Community Action, Maegan Pedemonti, Way Finders, Justin Maynard, VA, Eneida Molina, Springfield Works, Tiffany Munford, MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board, Zena Murray, Square One, Cindy Ray, MassHire FHCC, Celia Rodriguez, Square One, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Allison Scott, DIAL/SELF, Nate Taylor, Westover Job Corps
Discussion of career services in relation to YHDP:We began by reviewing the groundwork for the conversation:Both Hampden County CoC and Three County CoC (for Franklin County) have been selected by HUD to be Youth Homelessness Demonstration Programs.  They each have until April to finalize a plan of action with HUD, which if approved, will release $2.4 million for Hampden County and $1.9 million for Franklin County for programs to prevent and end youth homelessness. 
The plan must address the coordination of youth employment/education needs and housing.  The first step is to gain a clear grasp of the youth employment services that exist and then work together to better align employment and housing systems so maximum outcomes on both can occur. c

The questions before our group workforce partners today:Are you serving youth who are homeless?Do you collect data on housing status?
Also:How do we develop an effective way of interacting with young people around work readiness (clearly young people will be lead participants in answering this question).
What we learned:

  • MassHires have an assessment tool that includes a question re: housing.  That data can be obtained.
  • Youth Works (summer jobs programs) also collect data – 20% of people served must have contact with either DCF or DYS.
  • Holyoke Community College: for non-credit/adult education students, data is collected.  For enrolled students, the THRIVE center at HCC or the equivalent office at STCC have data. 
  • Leadership Employment and Advocacy Development (LEAD) – through NEFWC – serves youth who are leaving residential treatment through DYS – data is available.  
  • DTA’s Young Parent Program (YPP) – via CPM and Care Center
  • Teen Living Program (TPP) in Hampden County
  • Boys and Girls Clubs via the Shannon Grant, working with Holyoke and Chicopee youth 
  • WIOA mandates collaboration with certain partners and we should be sure to make those connections. 
  • Secure Jobs Initiative via Way Finders – they track housing and retention – a great model for wrap-around services, flexible funding – let’s use this in our planning!

Springfield Works  is working to pilot a “collective outreach and recruiting system” that creates a cross-sector collaborative tool for determining “ready, willing and able” to work.  
All agreed that lack of housing does not necessarily mean “not ready” to work; if there is a desire to work, that is sufficient.
Westover Job Corps is another resource that provides free housing for 2 years to 16-24 year olds who are homeless.  Must be drug and alcohol free.  Currently have 353 young people with a capacity for 470.  Spots can be hard to fill due to restrictions.  We should also think about system connections for young people who are expelled from the program due to violations.

Opportunity Academy – an alternative high school program in Holyoke – another consideration is youth who are better off completing the MCAS and graduating from their high school (as opposed to bypassing high school).  Many young people who are unstably housed are still thinking about college.  Our system response needs to account for that. 
Coordinated entry for determining vulnerability and assessing prioritizing for housing support is a vehicle that ultimately can incorporate education and employment needs, i.e.,we are aiming to create a single portal that assesses needs in multiple areas and makes appropriate referrals.  One goal is to provide shelter providers with an appropriate web of support and referrals so they can know where and how to guide a youth who is interested in further education or employment. 
Hampden County Workforce Board offers train the trainer workshops that provide staff with skills for training young people on how to do job search and other soft skills. This is offered a few times a year. 
Other Updates:

  • Built for Zero: This is a national initiative sponsored by the national non-profit Community Solutions that includes over 75 communities (550 people) from across the country working to prevent and end homelessness.  The Hampden County CoC is participating and the team (Pamela and Gerry included) just returned from its last “learning session” in late October in November.  It was extremely inspiring, providing both a big-picture frame for the work (around racial equity, inclusiveness, consumer leadership) and concrete tools (how to run a coordinated entry meeting, create a by-name list, etc.).  Pamela is relaying information to the Three County CoC and hopefully it will be able to join soon. The current focus is on ending veteran and chronic homelessness but includes a goal of ending all forms of homelessness.  Very exciting work!
  • Network trainings: The Network just sponsored a very successful training on “overcoming tenant screening barriers” on October 31,led by Community Legal Aid Attorney Jane Edmonstone; its next training is an overview of EA/Home/BASE programs, offered by DHCD staff, on November 14.  Also on the docket is a training on budget and policy advocacy, led by attorneys at Mass Law Reform Institute on January 28 (stay tuned for a formal registration notice).
  • Right to Counsel and HOMES Act: The Network is participating in the statewide campaigns to pass two bills that would greatly impact our efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness: Right to Counsel for low-income tenants and Eviction Sealing (HOMES Act).  Pamela will send out information to organizations so they can consider joining the growing coalitions in support of both.  The Boston Globe just editorialized in support of Right to Counsel, and MA Supreme Court Justice Gants publicly endorsed the proposal.  Stay tuned for more information. 

Next meeting: Monday, December 9, 9:30 am – 11:00 am Kittredge Center, Room 301, HCC. 

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