2000 Best Practice Awards
Best of the Best Winners: Massachusetts
Best Practice: GrandFamilies
Unique Program Assists Grandparents Raising
Boston, Massachusetts. The GrandFamilies
House in Massachusetts is the first housing development in the country
to serve the physical and economical needs of grandparents who are raising
their grandchildren without any assistance from the parents. The nonprofit
group Boston Aging Concerns, Young and Old United, Inc. (BACYOU) and several
supporting nonprofit partners formed the GrandFamilies House.
A study in Boston revealed that a growing
number of elderly citizens who were thought to be living by
themselves were actually supporting children full-time. In response to the
study, BACYOU conducted
a survey of 50 grandparent-headed households. Interviews with the grandparents,
overwhelmingly African-American women ranging from 50 to 86 years old, showed
significant health problems and low family income (typically $5,000 to $15,000).
The survey indicated that the women were raising their grandchildren because
of the impacts of substance abuse, death, incarceration, AIDS and other
illnesses, or immaturity on the part of the parents.
Between 1980 and 1990, the number of children
being raised by grandparents rose by 44 percent. By 1996, there were approximately
2.1 million young people being raised exclusively by their grandparents
or other relatives. BACYOU estimates that in Boston there are approximately
10,000 such cases.
To assist the needs of these households, the
GrandFamilies House offers 26 units of two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments.
The YWCA, a program partner, offers an on-site Generations Learning Together
program. This program provides seniors and their families with a pre-school,
an after-school and a computer learning center. All facilities are equipped
with innovations that involve grandparents in their grandchildrens
learning experience such as a special software program called Encarta Africana
which is an interactive computer encyclopedia from the orientation
of African-American history.
GrandFamilies House is beneficial to the community
because it provides a stable and safe environment for its residents. As
a society, we often focus on negative thingscrime, drugs, teenage
pregnancies, says Janet Zandt, executive director of GrandFamilies
House. What we have done is to focus our attention on the elderly
who took in these children who were left behind and are bringing families
The success of the GrandFamilies project was
accomplished through the use of partnerships between
providers, educators, funders and government agencies. The Womens
Institute for Housing and Economic Development co-developed the GrandFamilies
project and the YMCA offers an on-site Generations Learning Together program.
BACYOU has identified a set of needs in a growing population segment and
developed a program that addresses the basic concerns of housing, education,
social services, day care and health for these families. Without this help,
the families would spend too much of their limited incomes on shelter, lack
a social network to depend on for support, have less access to educational
services and ultimately raise their grandchildren in isolation, potentially
creating new cycles of intergenerational poverty.
The challenge of this project was to create
housing that supports the needs of this special type of familyone
with children and elders. To overcome this challenge, special features were
built to accommodate both the elders and their grandchildren. This includes
guardrails in bathrooms, ramps, and elevators. Child protective devices
were installed in the homes to avoid potential problems. The goal was to
make the environment as friendly and convenient as possible for the elders
to watch the children.
Contact: Janet Zandt, Phone: (617) 266-2257
Tracking Number: 2656
Winning Category: Geographic and Program (Community Builder)
Best Practice: Lead-Safe
Lead Hazard Control Program Provides a
Variety of Services to At-Risk Families
|Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Lead-Safe Cambridges
(LSC) small staff has had a large impact on controlling the lead hazard
among low- and very-low income residents of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Over
a three-year period, the percentage of area children with dangerous levels
of lead in their blood dropped from 10 percent of all children screened
in 1995 to 1.6 percent in 1998. Primary prevention measures through home
visits, outreach activities, interactions with property owners and contractors,
and even educational puppet shows at elementary schools have contributed
to the decrease.
Recipients (c) receiving Best of the Best
award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)
The City of Cambridge Community Development Department partnered with the
Cambridge Hospital system to develop the LSC in 1994 as a comprehensive
lead paint abatement and poisoning prevention program. LSC receives funding
from HUD as a lead hazard control grantee. The LSC staff works in the most
at-risk Cambridge neighborhoods that have aged and often dilapidated housing.
The goal is to prevent childhood lead poisoning and create affordable lead-safe
housing. To date, LSC has deleaded more than 220 affordable housing units.
Services include financial and technical assistance, lead inspections, construction
oversight, temporary tenant relocation, blood lead testing, patient education,
home visits, soil lead testing and control, and community outreach and education.
Although some of the work is responsive to
office walk-ins, phone calls and referrals, much is proactive, including
home visits, public education and development of partnerships. Partnerships,
such as one with Just-A-Start, a local nonprofit providing funding and technical
assistance for rehabilitation work, have allowed Lead-Safe Cambridge to
help owners renovate multifamily properties needing comprehensive lead hazard
LSCs original outreach strategy underestimated the need for services.
With initial plans for meetings, mailings, press releases and some outreach
to schools, LSC staff found that outreach needs surpassed original expectations.
Finding it difficult to get people to attend an event strictly about lead
poisoning prevention, LSC participated in existing events that are broader
than lead poisoning prevention, such as Community Baby Shower or Spring
Through state funding of an outreach coordinator
position, new enrollees and the visibility of the program have grown considerably.
Staff members worked with the state legislature to declare a Lead Poisoning
Prevention Week, which included LSC-sponsored events such as a kick-off,
workshops, a finale at a local mall, and a Lead Awareness Gallery
of posters and interactive exhibits that taught children from area day camps
about the dangers of lead.
Local outreach activities include the following:
- Property owner workshops on a pilot program
to reduce lead in soil
- Lead-hazard awareness training during classes
for first-time homebuyers
- Large displays in supermarkets, hardware
stores, YMCAs, shopping malls and other venues
- Advertisements displayed on public transportation
targeted at do-it-yourselfers
- Ads in movie theaters targeted at parents
and property owners
- Presentations in kindergarten and first-grade
classes using a Sesame Street video on lead education, a sing-along
with Elmo and educational materials for children to take home to parents
- A video in Portuguese
- Education sessions during English as a Second
Language classes and birthing classes
The staff also distributes brochures on prevention
of lead poisoning, including a Sneaky Poison pamphlet that LSC
developed and adapted for all literacy levels. In addition to English, all
brochures are translated into the areas prevalent languagesPortuguese,
Spanish and Haitian Creole.
Press coverage and displays in the windows
of local hardware stores helped LSC convey the lead awareness message to
more than 20,000 residents. LSC also relies on its website at http:www.ci.cambridge.ma.us~LeadSafe/ to
educate the public.
Contact: Peggy Hegarty-Steck, Phone: (617) 349-6010
Tracking Number: 298
Winning Category: Program (Office of Lead Hazard Control)
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Practices 2000 Best of the Best Winners
Content Archived: April 20, 2011