On Tuesday, October 20th at 10:30 in Room B-2 at the MA State House), the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities will be hosting a hearing on a variety of bills that have been filed and assigned to their committee. Click here to view the entire list of bills that will be discussed. As always, you are encouraged to provide oral or written testimony or consider attending to demonstrate your support for these issues that impact homeless and at-risk families.
You may recall that our Executive Director, Libby Hayes and our Board President, Gabrielle Vacheresse presented testimony recently before the Joint Committee on Education regarding An Act Providing Immediate Child Care Assistance to Homeless Families. This bill will once again be heard before the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities next week, allowing us another opportunity to speak to the importance of this bill before a new audience of legislators.
Another bill that will be heard on Tuesday is An Act Relative to ensuring the wellbeing of all children in the Commonwealth, a comprehensive bill that addresses not only child care, but also a range of other issues impacting children living in low income households. Among the items contained in the bill are:
- Access to child care vouchers for up to 6 months after a family exits shelter into housing,
- Removal of the requirement that families must spend one night in a place not meant for human habitation before qualifying for shelter,
- Requiring a written explanation as to why any family entering EA shelter is placed more than 20 miles from their home community,
- Establishment of a working group to assess the need for and methods to provide meals to homeless families residing in motels and
- Requiring MassHealth to provide medical transportation to and from shelter placements to medical appointments.
Other bills with the potential to impact families, both indirectly and directly are:
- An Act requiring the DTA (should read DHCD) to track and report on the use of emergency shelter services by families, which would require the state to report on a range of data to the state including but not limited to the number of families denied shelter and the reasons for denial, the number of families who re-enter shelter after exiting and reasons for departure or terminations;
- An Act to end child homelessness, which would mandate that no family be terminated from publicly funded housing or shelter without DCF and DHCD first implementing a plan to ensure that the child(ren) will be housed in a place fit for human habitation, with all reasonable efforts to ensure the child(ren) remain in the custody of their parents or caregivers and
- An Act to eliminate photo identification on EBT cards, which would strike the language requiring the photos on cards.
We hope that you are able to be present at the hearing and are able to provide testimony in support of these important bills. Please let us know if you need support in developing your ideas for submission. Remember that if you do not plan to testify, your presence in the hearing room that day can make a difference. Again, thank you for all of the work that you do to end family homelessness in the Commonwealth. We could never do this work alone!!