City Connects and Rosie’s Place: forging new ways to reach families

City Connects works hard to get the right service to the right child at the right time — and we also help our community partners make new models of service delivery successful.

One example is the highly respected, Boston-based organization Rosie’s Place.

Back in 1974, when Rosie’s Place opened its doors, it was the first women-only shelter in the United States. Rosie’s provided beds, compassion, and assistance to women who came through its doors.

Today, Rosie’s strategy has grown to include citywide outreach. Thanks to the Rosie’s Place Community Collaborative, Rosie’s staffers work everywhere. They go to homes and work in courthouses and at the Franklin Field public housing development in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood.

It’s in Boston’s public schools that Rosie’s Place works with City Connects to bring this new outreach model to families. City Connects helped identify which schools had families in need of support. And because coordinators know kids and families so well, they are able to make fast, targeted connections between these families and Rosie’s Place. This targeted outreach allows Rosie’s place to create a more efficient service delivery model.

“Since the beginning of the Rosie’s Place School Collaborative Initiative in 2015, City Connects administrators and coordinators have been among our biggest supporters,” Tenisha Daluz, Director of Rosie’s School Collaborative explains.

“City Connects coordinators were our first connections to the schools and continue to be our strongest partnership. 

“The coordinators understand that helping the whole child includes supporting the mothers of our schools. Through our partnership, we have been able to provide on- and off-site support and expertise to families seeking housing stability or food. We have created safe spaces in schools that help us fulfill our mission of helping poor and homeless women maintain their dignity, seek opportunity, and find security.”

For one mother the challenge of paying rent was particularly daunting because she had just been reunited with her children who had been in foster care. Fortunately, she met with a Rosie’s Place advocate who was at her children’s school. She explained her situation, and, in a couple of days, Rosie’s Place sent a check to cover her rent.

This work was recognized in June by the life insurance company, Mutual of America, which named Rosie’s and City Connects’ partnership a Merit Finalist for the 2017 Community Partnership Award. The award cited this effort as “an outstanding example of leadership in the facilitation of partnerships between public, private, and social sector organizations to build better communities for the future.”

Sara Davey, the City Connects Program Manager in Boston, explains:

“From the very beginning, the staff at Rosie’s Place have recognized that their school partnerships would not be a one size fits all model. They have taken time to understand the unique needs of each school community. In one school, the focus might be on parent education. Another school might need a food pantry.

“What remains consistent, though, is that in each school, Rosie’s Place builds a safe space where women can get support for whatever they need. This approach makes services more accessible. Rosie’s Place has become our go-to partner for helping families with food or housing insecurity. We are so grateful for the drive and compassion Rosie’s Place brings in the midst of the toughest times that families face.”

The Rosie’s Place/City Connects partnership links families to a range of services including:

• emergency assistance securing food, toiletries, clothing referrals, and transportation

• help paying utility bills

• help paying back rent to avoid evictions

• referrals for counseling and substance abuse treatment, and

• help applying for food stamps, fuel assistance, and other benefits

Services are offered in English, Spanish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Cape Verdean Creole. Support is also available for speakers of other languages.

At City Connects, we’re excited to see how we can work with more of our community partners to help them innovate their delivery models and better reach the children and families who benefit.

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