The Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness recently released a new policy brief on child care for homeless children. This brief, the seventh in the “Profiles or Risk” series examining characteristics of homeless families in the United States, explores differences in child care by housing status. Ever-homeless women receive child care subsidies less often than their stably housed peers and are the most likely to use informal arrangements that provide few developmental supports for children. Ever-homeless women also report more frequent disruptions of employment or training due to unreliable child care.
Increases Won in House Budget
Advocates worked hard to increase resources for youth jobs and workforce training in the House budget process. Here are House final numbers~ now on to the Senate!!
- 7003-0803 – One Stop Career Centers: $4,752,000
- 7035-0002 – ABE- ESOL: $29,923,112
- 7002-0012 – YouthWorks youth jobs: $8,609,158
- 7027-0019 – School to Career Connecting Activities: $2,700,000
- 8100-0111 – Shannon Anti-Gang Violence Program: $5,500,000
- 4401-1000 – Employment Services Program: $8,109,035
- Outside Section 88 – Community College Workforce Development Grant Fund- $12 million per year from Gaming License Fees
Many thanks to House leaders and members for their support!!
While the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund was not specified in the House budget we still have a chance to advocate for it in the Senate budget and in the proposed Jobs Bill.
Please encourage local participants from WCTF funded training partnerships to weigh in with their Senators about the impact of these partnerships.
At midnight last night, the Massachusetts House passed its $32.4 billion state spending plan, completing consideration of nearly 900 amendments in just three days of debate.
The budget, which passed by a vote of 150-4, contains no new taxes, but seeks about $790 million in one-time revenues, including $400 million from the “Rainy Day” fund.
A number of provisions have garnered headlines over the three days. Here are a few of them:
EBT Reform. From the Boston Herald:
A tough-talking House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo put welfare cheats on notice last night, vowing to crack down on fraud, as the House approved strict tightening of the abused EBT card system and set up a potential showdown with Gov. Deval Patrick, a fierce defender of the program.
As State House News reported, EBT reform sparked heated debate last night and “laid bare a schism among the chamber’s Democrats” before it was ultimately passed, 122-33, with all “nay” votes coming from Democrats.
The provision, as the AP reports, “would add several items to the list of purchases that could not be made with the [welfare] cards, including firearms, cosmetics, professional services other than medical care, strip clubs, travel services, health clubs, tattoo parlors, jewelry, gambling, payment of restitution or bail, and gambling.”
Rep. Ruth Balser, one of the amendment’s critics, reportedly called it “anti-poor-person,” but supporters say it’s needed to root out welfare fraud.
Patrick, the AP reports, today “did not commit to signing the EBT changes, saying he would wait and see what emerges after the budget goes through the Senate.”
The National Alliance to End Homelessness has just released a Prevention and Shelter Diversion Toolkit, the companion to the Coordinated Assessment Toolkit. This new toolkit provides more specific guidance on best practices when it comes to shelter diversion and prevention and includes materials on assessment for prevention/diversion eligibility and targeting strategies, as well as specific community examples of implementation. Communities should use this information to help them continue to develop and refine their coordinated assessment processes. Communities without coordinated assessment in place will still find the materials useful in helping them improve the way they serve at-risk and homeless households.
Published: Saturday, April 21, 2012, 10:00 AM Updated: Saturday, April 21, 2012, 12:02 PM
By Peter Goonan, The Republican The Republican
Massachusetts is taking aim at reducing the numbers of homeless families housed in hotels and motels with a “housing first” strategy that includes adoption of a targeted emergency shelter system and spending an additional $25 million for permanent housing and support services.
“We think we can dramatically reduce motel-hotel use,” Aaron Gornstein, undersecretary for the state Department of Housing and Community Development, told the editorial board of The Republican recently. “My focus is to reduce it to zero.”
Gornstein visited Springfield to urge support for budget reforms proposed by Gov. Deval L. Patrick to combat high numbers of families being housed at state expense in hotels and motels across the commonwealth while they await placement in more permanent housing.
“Investments in our successful ‘Housing First’ programs and public housing stock, combined with a targeted emergency shelter system, are critical to combating homelessness in the commonwealth,” Gornstein said.
As of April 3, there were 1,463 families housed in motels and hotels, including 393 in Western Massachusetts. That compared to 1,332 families in January, including 342 families with 680 children in hotels in Chicopee, Greenfield, Holyoke, Springfield and West Springfield. In July 2011, the number statewide was 1,741 families.
Patrick’s budget reforms for fiscal 2013 include proposals to shift an additional $25 million for permanent housing and support services, as part of a “rapid rehousing” strategy, Gornstein said. By limiting shelter to families in emergency situations, the goal is to get more families out of shelters and motels with an estimated savings of $25 million and reinvest the savings into housing programs, he said.
That will serve to get more homeless families out of emergency shelters and motels, and into apartments, he said.
A prolonged stay in hotels for use as housing is detrimental to the family and a financial burden to the state, Gornstein said.
The proposed changes are being praised by regional advocates for the homeless, who say the changes would provide a stronger, more fiscally responsible and compassionate response to the plight of families housed in emergency shelters and motels.
The reform proposals are “an outgrowth of tried and true practices of the networks across the state,” said Pamela Schwartz, executive director of the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness. In 2009, there were grants issued to networks for the homeless statewide to build on a “housing first” strategy, finding homes for the homeless and helping to stabilize their lives, she said.
“I think the governor’s reforms are vitally important,” Schwartz said. “The reforms are a reflection of the best practices that followed from the state pilot program.”
The House Ways & Means budget “adopts many of the Governor’s proposals and demonstrates their shared commitment to a housing first response for families experiencing instability,” Gornstein said.
The legislative review continues, and Gornstein said he hopes the budget adopted by the Legislature “includes the responsible safety net we’ve outlined and the investments we feel are necessary to reduce homelessness in Massachusetts.”
The National Alliance to End Homelessness recently released a policy brief on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) homeless youth. This document not only outlines the challenges faced by this vulnerable population, but also suggests policy solutions to combat the issue.
As many as 20 percent of the runaway and homeless youth population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ). This suggests as many as 80,000 LGBTQ youth are homeless for over a week each year. These young people face particular difficulties. Ending homelessness for LGBTQ youth will require specific policies to address those difficulties, such as:
- Promoting a culturally competent approach to service delivery and care;
- Ensuring nondiscriminatory access to housing resources;
- Supporting family intervention approaches that address conflict over sexual orientation and gender identity;
- Promoting supportive services models that take into account the experiences and needs of LGBTQ youth; and
- Including LGBTQ youth in data collection and analysis.
Join the Campaign to End Child Homelessness for a free webinar on Developing a Trauma-Informed Approach to Support Children and Their Families. The prevalence of traumatic stress in the lives of children and families who are homeless is extraordinarily high. Experiences of trauma, particularly from a young age, can impact all aspects of daily life. Trauma survivors have unique service needs requiring providers to tailor their approaches. Becoming “trauma-informed” involves using knowledge of trauma and recovery to design and deliver services. This webinar will explore what it means to adopt a “trauma-informed” approach to service delivery and provide participants with concrete ideas for how to meet children’s needs at all levels of an organization.
- April 25, 2012
- 2:30 – 4:00 pm
- Click here to register
By Colleen Quinn
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, APRIL 18, 2012…..Diamond McMillion vividly remembers constantly feeling cold when she became homeless at 16 years old.
For the first two years she lived on the streets – sleeping in elevator shafts, under bridges, in parks – she could not shake the cold.
“There was no way to ever get warm,” she said.
Now 26 years old, she still shutters when she talks about it. McMillion was homeless for nearly a decade.
She remembers hopping from rooftop to rooftop along Boylston Street, looking for an apartment building that she and a band of other homeless teens could pry their way into to spend the night. The only bathrooms she ever used were in gas stations, but that never lasted long because attendants quickly caught on and banned her from using them.
Hunger always lingered among her group of homeless teens. One woman in the group, who was 19, prostituted herself to “make sure we all ate,” McMillion said. The young woman is dead now, like many of the people McMillion knew living on the streets – either dead or in jail, she said.
McMillion said there are many teenagers and young adults like her, living on the streets alone without family, fighting to survive.
State officials and those who advocate for the homeless say there is an alarmingly large population of so-called unaccompanied homeless young people, ages 14 to 22, living on the streets and in shelters across Massachusetts. The figure is growing, and too big to get a grasp of because homeless teenagers often hide their plight, and go uncounted, advocates say.
Massachusetts was one of the first states to include a question about homelessness in the student risk behavioral study school districts conduct for the federal government every two years, according to homeless advocates.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education gives the Youth Risk Behavior Survey in odd-number years to high school students in randomly selected public high schools across the state. The survey results are weighted to produce representative estimates of the entire public high school population, according to DESE.
In the 2009 YRBS survey – the most recent data available – 4.3 percent of Massachusetts public high school students identified themselves as homeless. Extrapolated to the entire high school population, it would equal roughly 12,500 students, according to a spokesman for DESE. The survey does not ask whether they are homeless with family members. But the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless estimates 6,000 teenagers are unaccompanied homeless, taking into account those who self-identify and predicting the number who keep it secret and those who drop out of school.
Schools also report the number of homeless students they can identify to DESE. In the 2010-11 school year, school officials reported a total of 14,247 students who identified themselves as homeless across all grades kindergarten through 12. Of that number, 4,195 students were in high school.
Those who work with the homeless say the figures do not paint an accurate picture of the problem because they only identify those who admit to being homeless. Most try to hide it, making sure they go unnoticed because they are ashamed of being homeless, while others without families fear they will be sent to foster care. Some try to protect their parents by keeping their homelessness hidden, advocates said. Many homeless teens drop out of school so no one counts them.
Officials from the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, founded in 1981, said they have never before witnessed such high levels of unaccompanied homeless youth. They attribute it partly to the recession.
“This particular issue has been percolating for a while,” said Robyn Frost, executive director of the coalition. “What we are hearing across the state is, in some cases, kids are leaving their homes because their parents really can’t afford to care for them anymore. Families are just being shoved into poverty.”
Click here to access the full article .
Advocacy Alert from The Workforce Solutions Group
The House Ways and Means budget was released last week and funding for teen jobs and other workforce priorities were cut.
We need to rally everyone to ask their representatives to vote for these important amendments! Budget caucuses will be held April 23-26 and we want to ask legislators to attend the ones on Workforce Development, Adult Ed and Youth Jobs to vote for these amendments!
Here are the amendments:
- Amendment 826 to re-capitalize the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund at $10 million
- Amendments 294, 325, 539 to level fund One Stop career centers
- Amendments 404, 339, and 866 to restore and increase YouthWorks Youth Jobs Program
- Amendments 447, 366 to fund School-to-Career Connecting Activities
- Amendments 23 and 775 to restore the Shannon Anti Violence grants
- Amendment 856 to restore the Education Rewards Grant Program
- Amendments 234 & 299 to level fund Adult Basic Education & ESOL.
Please call us with any questions and let us know any feedback you hear from legislators.
Thanks as always for your champion advocacy!