Interagency Working Group on Poverty and Economic Security Agenda and Minutes - 01/14/21


January 14, 2021; 1:00 PM

WebEx Video Conference

Join by Phone: (312) 535-8110

Meeting Number: 133 502 9225

  1. Introductions/Opening Discussion (20 mins)
    1. Name
    2. Department
    3. Faces of Poverty
    4. What would you like to take away or learn from our experience working together as a part of the Interagency Working Group on Poverty?
  2. Public Comment (5 mins)
  3. Update on Poverty Commission (10 mins)
    1. Poverty Commission Update - First Meeting
    2. Timeline
    3. Next Steps
  4. Staff Level Policy Working Group Update (10 mins)
    1. EITC Project
    2. Financial Literacy/Asset Building
    3. Collaboration - Hunger Commission
  5. Eviction Support Package Overview (20 mins)
    1. Discussion/Questions/Suggestions
  6. Overview of Interim Report (10 mins)
  7. Planning Discussion - Break Out Session (40 mins)
    1. Question: How should the Poverty Commission go about achieving the recommendations below? What tactics do you suggest towards achieving these recommendations? Are there any considerations that were missed in the IWPES initial recommendations?
      1. Embrace an Equity Lens and Confront Systemic Racism and Institutional Discrimination
      2. Address Economic Exclusion and Ensure Poverty Reduction Strategies are Accessible and Equitable
      3. Build Infrastructure to Measure the Impact of Discriminatory Institutions, Track the Success of Poverty Interventions, and Identify Promising New Strategies
      4. Engage in Collaborative Solutions Across Public and Private Sectors
  8. Next Steps/Next Meeting (5 mins)

Meeting Minutes

Members in Attendance: Illinois Department of Human Services - Chairperson, Secretary Grace Hou; Illinois Department of Labor - Director, Michael D. Kleinik; Illinois Department of Public Health - Assistant Director, Amaal V.E. Tokars; Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity - Deputy Director Office of Policy Development, Planning & Research, Jason Horwitz; Illinois Department of Aging - Director, Paula A. Basta, M.Div.; Illinois Department of Corrections - Chief of Women and Family Services, Tangenise Porter; Illinois Governor's Office of Management and Budget - Deputy Director, Marc Staley

Members Absent: Illinois State Board of Education - State Superintendent, Carmen Ayala; Illinois Department of Agriculture - Deputy Director, Kristi Jones

Invited Members: Illinois Department of Employment Security - Labor Market Information Director, George W. Putnam; Illinois Housing Development Authority - Special Initiatives Manager, Megan Spitz; Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services - Jenny Aguirre, Administrator Strategic Vendor Relationships

Guests in Attendance: Illinois Governor's Office - Deputy Governor, Sol Flores; Illinois Department of Human Services - Senior Public Service Administrator, Dana Kelly; Illinois Department of Human Services - Associate Director of Workforce Development, LaTanya Law-Fountain; Illinois Department of Human Services - Director of Division of Family and Community Services, Tim Verry; Illinois Department of Human Services - Director of Strategy, Equity and Transformation, Caronina Grimble; Illinois State Board of Education - Research and Evaluation Officer, Dr. Brenda Dixon; Illinois Department on Aging - Deputy Director, Lora McCurdy; Illinois Department on Aging - Senior Policy Analyst, Amy Lulich; Governor's Office of Management and Budget - General Counsel, Bob Steere; Governor's Office of Management and Budget - Deputy General Counsel, Kristina Dion; Heartland Alliance - Legislative Advocacy Director, Kimberley Drew; Greater Chicago Food Depository - State Engagement and Policy Innovation Lead, Colleen Burns; University of Chicago Poverty Lab - Executive Director, Carmelo Barbaro; University of Chicago Poverty Lab - Senior Portfolio Manager, Misuzu Schexnider

Introductions / Opening Discussion (20 mins)

IDHS Secretary and Chairperson of the Interagency Working Group on Poverty and Economic Insecurity Grace B. Hou started the meeting at 1:00 PM and opened with discussion of the Commissioner's challenge to the Working Group to think outside of the box and deliver innovative ways to understand how individuals and families are experiencing poverty. Secretary Hou asked for ways in which agencies are currently hearing from the community members they are trying to reach:

  • It may be easier to get individuals to discuss difficult issues when we ask them to talk about their observations, rather than themselves.
  • Illinois Department of Corrections has implemented constituent services for individuals and families to reach out to when needed, and they can remain anonymous.
  • Others suggested thinking about how we can transform poverty from having a negative and loaded connotation.

Public Comment (5 mins)

None received.

Update on Poverty Commission (10 mins)

Dana Kelly provided an update on the status of the Commission.

  • The first meeting of the Commission was on December 2, 2020. The Co-Chairs, Evelyn Diaz and Amy Susan Brown led the meeting, Governor Pritzker gave an introductory address, and the General Assembly members and Judiciary appointees also gave an address to the Commission.
  • There was discussion and feedback around the public hearing process - ensure the focus is on access, creating safe spaces for people to share, and focusing on feedback from people with lived experiences. The Commission will move forward, working with our Community Based Organization partners who sit on the Commission, to help host these meetings. The Commission will continue to keep this group informed and would appreciate any assistance in planning these sessions.
  • There was also a data presentation from Dr. Dixon and George Putnam who gave an in- depth analysis on the poverty outlook in Illinois, and specifically, an analysis on intergenerational poverty based on outcomes of students and how this impacts intergenerational poverty over time. Agencies are hoping to negotiate data sharing agreements to continue to see how those trajectories have changed over time.
  • The Commission will work in tandem with other groups at DHS, focused on the same issues, such as, the Social Service Advisory Council and the Illinois Commission to End Hunger.

Staff Level Policy Working Group Update (10 mins)

Dana Kelly gave an overview of progress of the Staff Level Policy Working Group, stating the group has been meeting bi-weekly since September and is made up of volunteer staff from the Interagency Working Group. The Staff Level Policy Working Group is open to anybody who works with the Commission and would like to be a part of the group.

  • The group has engaged in the following areas:
    • Consumer protection and financial literacy, specifically around consumer protections against predatory lending;
    • Continued work with the Illinois Commission to End Hunger to ensure work is aligned;
    • Working with the Illinois Department of Revenue to increase participation in the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
      • Beginning in March, in tandem with the New America Practice, will work to target those who may be eligible for EITC but are not leveraging it. There is an estimated $400M unclaimed tax credits to families in the State.
    • Working on data sharing agreements with IDES and ISBE to move forward in tracking intergenerational poverty;
    • Met with the Atlanta Fed, who have built tools to allow persons to understand the impact of policy decisions that they make.
  • The group is looking for additional expertise from those based outside of the Chicago area.
    • The group will look into the Elder Index as another indicator for consideration.

Eviction Support Package Overview (20 mins)

In collaboration with a different interagency working group to address issues of housing and homelessness, members of this working group have been focusing on eviction prevention. Megan Spitz from the Illinois Housing Development Authority gave an overview of the State of Illinois' Rental Eviction Prevention Strategy:

  • Federal stimulus funding: A large amount of funding was received from the most recent stimulus package and the working group is currently figuring out how to best use this funding - it is meant for emergency rental assistance but can also be used for additional items.
  • Goal: Support the housing market by providing rental assistance and support services prior to eviction.
  • Strategy: Rental assistance, legal assistance, case management, and community outreach.
  • Time frame: January 1-December 31, 2021, hoping to launch all programming in March 2021.
    • There is a tight timeline to allocate funds in order to not lose any of this funding.
  • IDHS also received funding for similar goals, including $22M in housing assistance.
  • Understanding the need:
    • Estimated that 414,00 households are vulnerable to eviction, this is estimated to cost significantly more than allocated funding (about 50% of the need).
  • There is a potential for partnership with the Illinois Department on Aging as they also received funding for housing.

Overview of Interim Report (5 mins)

The first Interagency Working Group Report was finished in November. It includes research regarding the state of poverty in Illinois and some methods and frameworks that will be used in drafting the strategic plan.

Planning Discussion (Break Out Sessions - 20 mins)

Based on the recommendations for the pillars for the strategic plan, the group was broken up into four, smaller, break-out groups, for focused discussion.

  • Embrace an equity lens and confront systemic racism and institutional discrimination
    • The State should take a firm but inviting approach, that will not likely be a one-size fits all solution
    • The group acknowledged that everyone starts at different levels of understanding and staff should reflect who we want to be
    • The State should revise hiring practices and focus on using asset-based language to create a new narrative around how we talk about communities and the challenges they face
    • The group suggested a training for staff and community partners on implicit biases and microaggressions to ultimately create a community of learning and to become a professional education community.
    • The group acknowledged that the challenge right now is the human factor -recognizing that changes need to happen and making them happen
    • The group also suggested embracing the plan as just a plan, and there are things outside of the group's control that may change - the strategic plan should be seen as a roadmap and an iterative document.
  • Address economic exclusion and ensure poverty reduction strategies are accessible and equitable
    • Childcare may be an area where the State has more flexibility so this may be a good starting place.
    • Heartland Alliance is hosting additional conversations on wealth stripping with community partners so more may be coming out of this effort. There is also additional work being done by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and the University of Chicago Poverty Lab.
    • In the next legislative session, the group discussed prioritizing paid family leave and how the State can maintain some of the flexible work offerings.
    • The group also discussed the ability to expand EITC for undocumented individuals or students, or some sort of tax credit for caregivers.
    • Finally, the group discussed SNAP and the idea that some students in other states currently are eligible for SNAP.
  • Build infrastructure to measure the impact of discriminatory institutions, track the success of poverty interventions, and identify promising new strategies
    • As exciting work is happening, it is important that this group is aware of it and can be tracking it.
    • Relationships with managed care can be better studied to understand pay for performance and some of the other incentives in this space
    • This group needs to better understand the experiences of people in poverty, including their income when trying to make improvements.
    • How do we better support people during times of transition?
    • How can we leverage cross-cutting interventions? We need to be sure we are not isolating interventions on their own.
    • Workforce retraining came up as a tactic to study further for innovation and effectiveness.
    • How do we build a repository of best practices? It is important to be able to leverage work that is succeeding in other areas of the country.
  • Engage in collaborative solutions across public and private sectors
    • Several ways to expand relationships across public and private sectors - the greatest challenge is integrating community voices into the work that is being done.
      • How can we involve those with lived experience in our work?
    • We need more regular feedback on an ongoing basis - can we hold targeted focus groups, surveys, and listening sessions?
      • It is important to compensate participants for their feedback, yet this still does not always lead to increased participation.
  • We need to normalize the idea of engagement between public and private sectors.
  • Going forward, how can we transition from our old way of doing things into a new way of doing things?

Next Steps / Next Meeting (5 mins)

The next meeting will be on April 15th. The Working Group will do a significant amount of work between now and the next meeting. The Working Group will continue to support the strategic plan put forth. The Illinois Commission to End Hunger will be sharing their roadmap in the next few weeks and will also be shared via e-mail with this Working Group. The meeting was adjourned at 2:43 PM.