AGENDA and minutes - Commission on Poverty Elimination and Economic Security 3/28/22

March 28, 2022

1:00pm - 2:30pm


Desired Outcomes:

  • Set out Plan for Strategic Plan and Report Roll Out
  • Vote on and Approve Strategic Plan Brief
  • Review Implementation Plan for Commission
  • Communicate Next Steps to Guide Work Ahead


  1. Welcome Roll Call (10 mins)
  2. Approval of February 9, 2022 Meeting Minutes (5 mins)
  3. Roll Call Vote
  4. Public Comment - Open (5 mins)
    • Subject to written comment in advance
  5. Strategic Plan Roll Out (10 mins)
  6. Review and Approve Strategic Plan Framework (40 mins)
    1. Discussion
    2. Roll Call Vote
  7. Implementation and Future Commission Work (10 mins)
  8. Next Steps and Adjournment (5 mins)

Meeting Minutes

Commission Members in Attendance:

  1. Senator Dale Fowler, member of General Assembly;
  2. Representative Lamont J. Robinson, Jr., member of General Assembly;
  3. Hon. Joy V. Cunningham, member of the Judiciary;
  4. Evelyn Diaz, representative of an anti-poverty organization focusing on urban and suburban poverty;
  5. Channyn Lynne Parker, individual who has experienced deep poverty;
  6. Oriane E. "Annie" Hewitt, individual who has experienced deep poverty;
  7. Angela Curran, representative of an organization that advocates for health care access, affordability and availability;
  8. Audra Wilson, representative of an organization that advocates for children and youth;
  9. Kate Maehr, representative of a statewide anti-hunger organization;
  10. Dr. Charles A. Montorio, representative of an organization that advocates for individuals with disabilities;
  11. Juan Manuel Calderon, representative of a an organization that advocates for immigrants;
  12. Jennifer Groce, representative of an organization that advocates for economic security for women;
  13. Al Llorens, representative of school districts in this State; and
  14. Pam Davidson, representative of county governments in this State.

Administrators in Attendance: Grace B. Hou, Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services; Dana Kelly, Senior Public Service Administrator, Illinois Department of Human Services

Guests: N/A

  1. Introductions - Co-chair Evelyn Diaz expressed her appreciation to all Commission members for all their contributions in the formulation of the Strategic Plan and especially Secretary Grace Hou and Administrator Dana Kelly for all their hard work in pulling together ideas in the creation of the Plan.
    • Co-chair Diaz outlined the objectives of the meeting:
      1. Set out plan for Strategic Plan and Report Roll Out;
      2. Vote on and approve Strategic Plan Brief;
      3. Review Implementation Plan for Commission; and
      4. Communicate next steps to guide work ahead.
  2. Opening Remarks
    • Secretary Grace Hou echoed the appreciation to the Commission members and particularly mentioned the leadership of the members of the General Assembly for opening up their communities and neighborhoods and engaging their constituents to provide feedback for the development of the Plan, as well as the leadership of Co-Chair Diaz. She added that the leadership has been truly instrumental in weaving all of the work together and ensuring that the different voices from the hundreds of people from across the state are reflected in the Strategic Plan.
    • Secretary mentioned that each detail of the Plan has been carefully thought out. An implementation plan will follow as well as a comprehensive report that will delve even more deeply into the rationale for targeting each strategy and how the Commission recommends that the State and other units of government and neighborhoods and community organizations can all work together to carry it out.
    • She said that in the next few months, the Commission will be socializing the Plan, even more broadly with other stakeholders across the State with the help of the commissioners. She said that since the intent of the legislation that initiated the Commission was for the Plan to be truly for all Illinois residents, the Commission will turn not only to the members of the General Assembly and the Administration, but to the partners in philanthropy and community partners and local units of government, to see how they can contribute to the Plan.
    • Secretary shared that the Commission hopes to take the Plan to multiple regions across the State; and that one of the lessons learned from the listening sessions was that even though there are cross-cutting policy issues that need to be addressed, a lot of the implementation and the interventions have to be local and locally driven, and they need to be customized to meet the needs of people from different neighborhoods.
    • Finally, she shared her excitement and enthusiasm on hitting a milestone and the recognition that there are so many more that can be achieved together, and her hope that everyone will agree that Plan really reflects the work of everybody in the Commission as well the sister agencies.
  3. Roll Call - Administrator Kelly took roll call and declared quorum.
  4. Approval of February 9th, 2022 Meeting Minutes
    • Senator Fowler moved for the approval of the minutes seconded by Dr. Charles Mantorio-Archer.
    • Administrator Kelly called the roll to affirm the adoption of the minutes.
  5. Public Comment - Co-chair Diaz opened the floor for public comment; none received. No written comment received in advance.
  6. Strategic Plan Roll Out
    • For her opening, Co-Chair Diaz said that both a strategic brief and a comprehensive report to support the strategies in the Plan were prepared and a copy of the brief was sent in advance to the Commission members. She shared that she and Administrator Kelly and a small group of Commission members have been meeting regularly, working on the Plan and the process, and it was recommended that a clear and concise strategic plan be presented to the General Assembly to meet the statutory deadline that's included in the Intergenerational Poverty Act. She added that the group believes that the Strategic Brief is a strong and easily digestible statement of the Strategic Plan and that the group hopes to get the approval of the body before submitting it to the Governor and the General Assembly on March 31st.
    • As for the more comprehensive report, Co-Chair Diaz said that details to the strategies can still be added to the comprehensive report, but it will act as supplemental to the Brief and that it will be sent to the members in the following days. She encouraged the members to review the comprehensive report but added that it does not require the Commission approval and that the plan is to have it finalized, published and available by April 30th. Whilst the more public release of both the Plan and the comprehensive report will be in the month of May which is in timing with the release of the State Homelessness Plan. A press briefing will be held where the Plan will be announced, and everybody is encouraged to participate in any way.
    • Senator Fowler asked about how the Plan will be presented to the General Assembly. Administrator Kelly said that the General Assembly will receive the Strategic Plan Brief by March 31st. The full report will also be sent through the Commission members caucus and via email. She added that they hoped to do a more a partnership with the General Assembly in the month of May for the public release and thus, adding to the minutes that briefings with the General Assembly and the caucuses will be done during the full rollout in the month of May.
    • Secretary agreed to Administrator Kelly but added that she would welcome Commission members to give feedback as to what the most effective way would be to communicate with members of the two chambers. The reason is Commission members receive a lot of reports that are mandated by different state agencies, and they could suggest ways of standing out and get the attention of their colleagues.
    • Senator Fowler shared that he was planning to let everybody know in the House thru his personal privilege on the floor by giving a brief synopsis of where the Commission is with regards to the Plan. He requested that either Administrator Kelly or Co-Chair Diaz work with him with regards to that. Administrator Kelly said she will get in touch with Senator Fowler later in the week.
    • Representative Lamont Robinson, Jr. agreed with Senator Fowler and expressed his willingness to do the same. He noted that there might be members in both the House and Congress that are interested and would want to make sure that they get this information out to their communities and thus, there might be a need to solicit these colleagues that want to learn more about the Commission to speak to the Commission about it. Finally, Rep. Robinson said that a resolution should be done on the floor.
    • Administrator Kelly said that briefings with the General Assembly's constituents are something that the Commission can do during the roll out of the Plan and that she sees doing a road tour in conducting the briefings with a bunch of different groups. Finally, she said they will work with the Assembly in identifying who these groups will be.
  7. Review and Approval of Strategic Plan Framework
    • Administrator Kelly started the presentation with the Commission's mission and vision which is to end intergenerational transmission of poverty by addressing root causes of economic insecurity, racial disparities, and other contributing social, economic and cultural factors. The excerpts of her presentation are as follows:
    • "And you're also very familiar with the three Commission goals that were outlined in the intergenerational poverty act. This time, this is a five-year plan that we're hoping to approve today that is focused on the 1st of the three goals, which is reducing deep poverty in the state by 50% by 2026. And you all have the copy of the Strategic Plan Brief, both in the meeting invite and (in the email) I sent on Friday. It outlines exactly what deep poverty means and what that focus means. I won't go into that detail but please review that.
    • "I also want to just emphasize that our values that were are embedded in each of these strategies are that they are (1) centered and led by the experiences of the community with an emphasis on those who experienced systemic poverty; (2) rooted in anti-racist restorative approach to equity and racial justice that reflects the diversity of those living in poverty; (3) conscious of the complex nature of poverty and the ways that economic, political and social systems perpetuate wealth stratification and impair economic mobility; and (4) focused on the strength assets, and potential of those living in poverty.
    • "So as many of you know, I've reviewed this in detail with the Commission in February. I also reviewed this one-on-one with a lot of folks as well. There have been some changes since February, which you'll notice a lot of which just kind of provide a little more detail, into the strategies. But this is broken up into five pillars. I'm going to go through each and name the strategies.
    • "So, the first pillar is Ensure Illinois is Best in Nation for Raising Families. That means, in terms of strategies, that we will ensure access to high quality early childhood services, and that includes early intervention, home visiting and affordable childcare. The 2nd strategy is to find a method to replicate the federal child tax credit for families raising children. This assumes that the Federal government, hopefully, will renew that tax credit, but this is for us to find another way if that does not happen. Expanding access to free and reduce school meals. Increasing participation in WIC by improving accessibility for those who are eligible.
    • "The 2nd pillar is stabilizing homes and communities. The 1st strategy is to end homelessness, this actually got changed but was not changed in the slides. My apologies. There was an amendment at the interagency working group to say that we would reduce poverty or homelessness by 50% in the 5-year period to reflect the 50% deep poverty reduction goal and ensure housing and affordability and accessibility. I apologize. That wasn't incorporated, but that should be reflected in what you received on Friday. And this is really done in concert with the interagency or the Homelessness Taskforce. So this reflects the plan that will be issued by the Homelessness Task Force also in May. The 2nd is investing in high quality, specialized supports for persons experiencing mental health and substance use-related crises. And the 3rd is invest in interventions that address cycles of trauma and violence in our communities.
    • "Pillar 3 is ensure just and equitable access to economic security programs. The 1st strategy is to create a single, accessible platform for individuals to enroll in all state benefits. The 2nd is to increase uptake, access and value of existing public benefits for those in extreme poverty. And the 3rd is to deploy direct cash assistance programs to lift families out of poverty. And that specifically is universal to those who also may not otherwise qualify for other existing public benefits.
    • "Pillar 4 is address barriers to paid work, education and advancement. Again, this one's the longest cause it was hard to encapsulate everything this includes. But the 1st strategy is to address barriers that prevent consistent work at a living wage by investing in transportation, childcare, paid leave, broadband, legal aid, re-entry services, disability and rehabilitation supports and immigrant and refugee services. So those are kinds of identified barrier areas that we will be targeting. The 2nd is related more to education and investing in apprenticeship and work-based learning, and barrier reduction program so that individuals can learn and train while not sacrificing income and then being able to continue supporting their family. And then the 3rd is expanding access to legal counsel for Illinoisans and ensure equitable access to court and legal processes. This is kind of our access to justice pillar. It also includes work to make courts more navigable and also to reduce the impact of fines and fees on people living in poverty.
    • "And then pillar 5 is about supporting trusted community-based providers to serve the needs of those in deep poverty. And this is really to support the safety net system that is actually serving the needs of those in deep poverty specifically with one part of the sector. Supporting our caregiving workforce by ensuring equitable wages, specifically for those in homecare and childcare, and then developing meaningful supports for unpaid caregivers so that they can continue to provide care within their home to their loved ones. Providing community-based providers with consistent and equitable access to funding that adequately keeps pace with rising costs. This strategy is really broadly across the nonprofit sector to ensure that those who are on the ground, meeting the needs of those in deep poverty, are mitigating their issues with staff shortages and other things that are really making them challenged to meet the rising need that's out there."
    • Administrator Kelly ended her presentation with her last slide on Measurement which showed how the approach will be measured. "So there are 630,000 individuals living in deep poverty so our reduction to that number should be 315,000 if this is our focus within the 5-year period. Success of the strategies that are included in this plan will be defined by that metric. We will be looking at that FPL reduction. Future goals, including the elimination of poverty by 2031 and the elimination of all poverty by 2036 will also be measured in this 5-year period because we do believe the strategies will be cross-cutting and will reduce poverty in all three categories. In addition, we will be monitoring some other metrics that we can include in our regular reporting but will not be the primary measure of success."
    • Co-Chair Diaz encouraged comments from the members on how the Strategic Brief look and feel as a whole and for the members to give important tweaks that they wanted to put in the Brief.
    • Justice Cunningham expressed her appreciation for incorporating the legal tweaks that she raised during the previous meeting and said that she believes that the Plan is comprehensive and will address the issue in such a way that it can be measured. Administrator Kelly also emphasized that the legal side is also embedded in the strategy on addressing barriers to consistent work at a living wage that involved additional supports and navigation resources for the legal system.
    • Al Lorens commented that the metrics are clearly stated as well as the desired outcomes. Also, that the Plan communicates the fact that it will readjust as necessary as it is a pretty much a dynamic plan. It will readjust and recalibrate while being implemented and the Plan itself communicates it effectively.
    • Jennifer Groce echoed Justice Cunningham's comments and commented specifically on Pillar 3 which included comments from her constituents and other agencies and which she said allows flexibility in some different ways. She also particularly noted that the strategy on the single accessible platform is outstanding as well as the 2nd strategy which was worded in a way that really allows for a lot of topics and conversations that were done locally on not punishing people as they try to move up and really allowing those existing benefits and looking across all of it.
    • Kate Maehr commended Administrator Kelly on her work on the Plan and shared that she is pleased on how the work of other bodies were reflected on the Plan. She suggested referencing the work of other bodies in the Executive Summary as she feels like it is part of the power of the Plan's approach, that it is not a silver bullet being created by one group but in fact, a commitment to partnering, collaborating and ultimately leveraging off the work of a lot of individuals and organizations who are coming together. She added that she specifically wants legislators, who may not be as deeply familiar, to have an understanding that the approach is with the idea of collaboration and recognizing that everyone will benefit when everybody works in the same direction. Justice Cunningham agreed with Ms. Maehr. Administrator Kelly said if everybody will approve, she can put a slight amendment to emphasize the support of other commissions.
    • Senator Fowler moved to approve the Framework and Pam Davidson seconded.
    • Administrator Kelly did the Roll Call vote:
      1. Sen. Fowler - Yes;
      2. Rep. Robinson - Yes;
      3. Justice Cunningham - Yes;
      4. Co-Chair Diaz - Yes;
      5. Channyn Lyn Parker - Yes;
      6. Angela Curran - Yes;
      7. Audra Wilson - Yes;
      8. Kate Maehr - Yes;
      9. Dr. Charles Montorio-Archer - Yes;
      10. Juan Manuel Calderon - Yes;
      11. Jennifer Groce - Yes;
      12. Al Llorens - Yes; and
      13. Pam Davidson - Yes.
    • Administrator Kelly declared that there are enough votes to approve the Framework.
    • Co-Chair Diaz congratulated everybody and introduced the next topic which was the Implementation Plan.
  8. Implementation and Future Commission Work
    • Administrator Kelly started the presentation and said that Strategic Plan is designed as a recommendation for the Governor, General Assembly, and the people of Illinois. The Governor will receive this and will accept the plan, but as a follow up and to add their input, the Commission will develop an implementation plan for this report. This has been discussed with the Governor's office and with the Governor's Office on Management and Budget and they plan to compose and complete an implementation plan against the strategy by August 1st, 2022; this will include any feedbacks from the Governor's Office. The Commission will have time to review the Plan before the next meeting.
    • In terms of the work moving forward, The Commission and IDHS' working group will form committees based on the pillars. The Commission will convene and launch regional councils and a proposal will be prepared within a year for FY23 as well as intergovernmental proposals and other proposals for projects that would be inclusive of local governments, community-based organizations and philanthropy.
    • The proposal is to establish Commission Committees based on the five different pillars and for the Commission to uphold itself, Commission members will have to join at least one committee, but those committees will also include members invited from the interagency working group on poverty, ad hoc staff, policy, poverty, policy committee, and other outside advocate groups and stakeholders. Inputs as to who would be good committee members are welcome but they will be open more generally. There will be a commission member that would share each committee; committee meetings would happen quarterly; and committees will report to the Commission in the biannual meetings. Commission members will receive a survey requesting information about what committee they would like to join and this should happen later on in the spring or early summer and the timeline for committee formulation, convened and launched will be by August 2021.
    • The 2nd part of the strategy is the development of regional councils and this will be shared by the different task forces and commissions and the intergovernmental groups that are all focused on on meeting different aspects of the needs of those that live in poverty. The proposal is to stand up six regional stakeholder engagement camp councils based on the areas of deepest poverty which really speak to the highest need areas in the State for all sorts of resources. The Councils will be led as the collaboration of the Poverty Commission, Homelessness Taskforce, Hunger Commission, Immigrant Impact Task Force but other task forces across the State are welcome. Councils will be made up of local community-based organizations, municipal and county officials, and residents with lived experience with poverty. Commission member participation is encouraged especially in the setting up of the councils and identifying members who should be involved. Administrator Kelly said that she will be reaching out to many of the Commission members who are really involved in the six areas in setting up the councils. The timeline for the regional council launch would be September 2022.
    • Co-Chair Diaz asked about the relationship between the Commission committees and the regional councils as well as about the measure of progress thru which the Commission can see how it is doing as it relates to the strategies. Administrator Kelly said the regional councils will provide an annual report to the Poverty Commission and other task forces and commissions as well about the different areas of poverty. The committees on the other hand, will reach out to those commissions, request that certain topic areas be discussed as part of their research and work in defining their strategies better or in executing their strategies; they could be a resource for those committees. The regional councils wouldn't report to the committees but rather to the full Commission. On the other hand, there will be a dashboard which everyone will see when the full report draft is released, that's been developed by UIC. It has supplemental metrics that have been turned into a dashboard which hopefully can measure the success or progress of the Plan. Everything is based on data from the American Community Service Survey which is only released annually on some metrics and every 5 years on others. A couple of the metrics drill down regionally, by county or by zip code. Administrator Kelly hopes that the dashboard will meet the Plan's need and everyone's feedback is welcomed.
    • Al Lorens asked if the implementation will be the same as the listening session where inputs were gathered from open hearing around the state. Administrator Kelly said that the regional groups would be very similar to the listening sessions done in the past, and that she worked with somebody from the Commission when she conducted listening sessions. She said that she will leave it to the Commission members, if they will help her conduct the listening sessions and try to re-engage the previous participants. Administrator Kelly added that she has the registration list and the participants can be followed up thru email with an update about what was developed based on their feedback. She also shared that she already reached out to some of the groups that have sponsored the listening sessions with an early version of the strategic plan draft to get their feedback.
    • Mr. Lorens followed up with his comment and said that folks are going to have real cynicism as to whether there's going to be any outcomes from the process. He said that the way to reinforce saying that the Commission is actually doing what they said they will do, is to go back to those folks that originally listened. He suggested that they can be invited to a function to show them that the Commission is doing something. Administrator Kelly agreed and shared that her goal is to make a "big splash" to make a lot of people know about the work that the Commission is doing. Co-Chair Diaz agreed to Mr. Lorens point and added that the Commission has to have integrity in that, if the Commission said, they will come back, they should come back. She suggested to think of different efficient ways to follow up with the people and make sure that they know they were heard and that in the end, the Commission came back. She added that there should be a next step for people's engagement, for example, get them sign up to the regional councils and they should have the information how to do it.
  9. Next Steps
    • Co-Chair Diaz presented the next steps. First, the full report will be finalized and sent to the members in the next couple of days. She encouraged the members to review that draft and provide any edits or feedback. She said that it's a voluntary request but stressed that their expertise is really going to make the report stronger. She suggested that they can focus on certain areas that they want to give feedback on. The goal is to have that final report done by April 30th.
    • Once the Report gets released in early May, the Commission members is encouraged to share the strategy and report within their networks and communities. She mentioned that Administrator Kelly is available to arrange stakeholder briefings.
    • Different launch events will be thought of that can be done May.
    • And finally, later in June, the Commission members will receive a survey about the committee that they would want to join. Co-Chair Diaz said that they will be aggressive in getting people to fill out the survey so that the committees will be launched by April.
    • Finally, the next commission meeting is going to be in August, and dates will be sent out soon.
    • Co-Chair Diaz expressed her appreciation to everybody and said that she is more energized with everybody's participation and engagement in the creation of the Report.
    • Justice Cunningham said everyone deserves a congratulations because the collaborative effort has yielded something positive. She shared that she feels good about the Report and the prospects that come with it. She also thanked the staff who did all the heavy lifting and her fellow Commissioners.
    • Rep. Robinson also expressed his appreciation to all the Commission members with specific mention to the hard work that Administrator Kelly has done in putting together the Report.
  10. Adjournment
    • Sen. Fowler moved to adjourn the meeting and seconded by Justice Cunningham.
    • The meeting was adjourned at 2:08pm.