Tag Archive for: Meghan Siembor

kids on bus
kids on bus

Opening Safely Should be a Top Priority


by Karen Frederick and Meghan Adams Siembor

LOWELL SUN 9/28/2020 B: Focus     Page B01 1/2

While public school educators and school systems are still debating how to safely return ( or not) to classrooms, early education programs were allowed to open in July, and if subsidized by the commonwealth were required to open by the end of July to be eligible for continued payment to care for and educate the state’s most at risk, low income children. This allows working parents who have no option of remote work to continue to provide for their families and support our
local economy. On July 8, Community Teamwork opened our doors and safely phased in up to 50% of our previous
enrollment by the end of July. This past Friday we were informed by the Department of Early Education and
Care that we could increase our classroom group size to 100% capacity, from 10 to 20 children. We have
seen no data or public health information which supports this increase.

With the benefit of only one month of reopening data, flu season on the way, and a projected spike sometime
in the fall of Covid-19 virus cases, we feel this is premature and dangerous to our staff, children and their
families — especially as schools are determining in some cities that even 25% of enrollment is not safe.
Looking at this new directive with a racial equity lens is even more disturbing. Our staff represent our
population. There are a majority of people of color who are already hit harder by this virus, as are our students
and their families. The commonwealth and the federal govern

Julia Malakie / LOWELL SUN

We were informed by the Department of Early
Education and Care that we could increase our
classroom group size to 100% capacity, from 10 to
20 children.
We have seen no data or public health information
which supports this increase.

ment that subsidize our programs for low income and at-risk children and families have a responsibility to
ensure the safety and sustainability of our programs. Without our high-quality early education and care
programs, the achievement gap will grow even higher. Parents, businesses, and our economy need us. We
have long talked about the important role of early education and child care in children’s academic
success, and we have long recognized the role child Just last week mobile, rapid Covid testing was made
available to public schools ( not yet open.) We applaud this initiative but ask why this has not been made
available to our programs, which have been open since July.

Across the sate, some early education programs are waiting up to 10 days for test results and several days
to even get appointments for testing. It is crucial that mobile rapid testing for staff, children and their
families be made available to programs already operating and serving infants through school age
children in the commonwealth. Opening safely should be a top priority Early Education Centers

9/28/2020 B: Focus
care plays in the economy. Parents cannot work without safe, affordable, high quality programs. Many
workers and single parents working in nursing homes, hospitals, supermarkets, restaurants shelter,
group homes, and child care centers are low wage workers who depend on state and federally funded
subsidized programs to care for and educate their children.

The subsidized system of the state’s Department of Early Education and Care was fragile prior to Covid,
with state rates as much as 30% lower than private rates. Across the state, our programs are currently
looking at when to close down classrooms, lay off staff, and even close entire centers.
Stable, adequate funding must be made available so that our programs are still here when it is safe to reopen
to capacity. This is a critical time which will determine the future of our field and parents’ access to affordable,
quality education and care for their infants through school age children. Improving educational outcomes for children and
achieving racial equity in our communities starts with quality early education. And supporting families working hard at essential jobs to provide food, housing and opportunity to their families is essential to our economy.

We call on the commonwealth and federal government to adequately and stably fund Early Education
Programs and to provide essential resources such as testing to ensure their future existence and to ensure
our economy can fully recover. Karen Frederick, CEO, and Meghan Adams Siembor, Division Director, Child
and Family Services at Community Teamwork

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GLCF, CTI and Middlesex District Attorney’s Office Partner in Drug Court Transportation Project

GLCF, CTI and Middlesex District Attorney’s Office Partner in Drug Court Transportation Project

Community Teamwork, Inc. (CTI) receives $10,000 Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) Grant

Lowell, March 13, 2019 – Community Teamwork, Inc. (CTI), Greater Lowell Community Foundation and
the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office are announcing a first-of-its kind partnership to provide
transportation to individuals to and from Drug Court. Last year CTI received a $10,000 grant from
the Greater Lowell Community Foundation to help start the pilot program, which kicked off in
October, and is currently providing services three women who are being picked up from a Lynn Sober
House and transported to their court appearances. The goal is to accommodate up to 13 individuals
each week.

“This partnership with the office of District Attorney Marian T. Ryan, Community Teamwork and the
Drug Court is the capstone of a multi-year commitment to fund programs for opioid prevention and
treatment in our area and help ensure success for participants. In response to the opioid epidemic,
the Community Foundation has awarded more than $160,000 in discretionary funds to support local
nonprofits,” said Greater Lowell Community Foundation President and CEO Jay Linnehan.

“By providing this transportation option we are filling a service gap that was prohibiting some
individuals from easily accessing the courts, which is essential to successful completion of drug
court,” said District Attorney Ryan. “We continue to work with the courts and our community
partners to ensure the criminal justice system is not just punitive. To do this we need to think
outside the box to come up with innovative solutions that will hopefully lead to a successful
outcome and ultimately interrupt the often cyclical effects of substance use disorders.”

The Drug Court is a special session within Massachusetts district courts where judges, prosecutors,
defense attorneys, probation officers, police and social-service workers team up to work with
defendants on probation whose crimes were motivated by substance abuse. Many defendants are placed
where treatment beds are available, which can be

located in Sober Houses far from their community and the Drug Court. These defendants risk
violating probation because they are unable to secure transportation to attend their trial. In
addition, various modes of transportation, such as public transportation and taxis can be cost
prohibitive and often defendants can find themselves back in the neighborhoods and streets where
drugs are being sold.

Community Teamwork recognized that its Transportation Department, which brings children to and from
school, had flexibility to use drivers and vehicles during the school day to respond to other
community needs. With funding from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, CTI is deploying
drivers and vehicles to fill this need. GLCF provided a $10,000 grant to support the cost of a
driver and van for Community Teamwork to facilitate this innovative approach to assist the Drug
Court and its clients. Together, CTI, GLCF and the Drug Court probation officers developed a
framework for what the program might look like as well as a strict Code of Conduct which the
participants would have to follow in order to receive the benefit of this program.

“Most often, these defendants are in need of other basic services which CTI can provide, such as
housing, financial literacy, child care, etc. Through this pilot program, which can send employees
from CTI to work with the probation officials and social workers, we are able to identify the
various resources available to the defendants. We could not have taken this novel approach without
the help of this grant from GLCF,” stated Meghan Siembor, Director of Child and Family Services.

About Community Teamwork

Community Teamwork is a catalyst for social change. Our driving mission is to help people help
themselves with child care, family supports, nutrition, fuel assistance, housing, skills training,
employment, financial education, and individual asset and small business development. As a
Community Action Agency, a Regional Housing Agency, and a Community Development Corporation,
Community Teamwork helps nearly 50,000 individuals from 63 cities and towns in northeastern
Massachusetts gain greater economic independence.

About the Greater Lowell Community Foundation

The Greater Lowell Community Foundation is a philanthropic organization comprised of over 350
funds, currently totaling over $35MM, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life in 20
neighboring cities and towns. The Community Foundation annually awards grants and scholarships to
hundreds of worthy nonprofits and students, and is powered by the winning combination of
donor-directed giving, personal attention from its staff, and an in-depth understanding of local
needs. The generosity of our donors has enabled the

Community Foundation to award more than $13 million to the Greater Lowell Community since 1999.


Program Contact: Meghan Siembor – Division Director, Child and Family Services 978-654-7130,  msiembor@commteam.org

Media Contacts: Julia Ripa – jripa@commteam.org, communications@commteam.org,  978-654-5628  OR Meghan Kelly,  781-897-8325, Meghan.Kelly@state.ma.us

Fantastic article in the Lowell Sun (3/29/19) by Rick Sobey about how the Middlesex DA Marian Ryan GLCFoundation and CTI are partnering to help drug-court defendants go to their hearings – They are using CTI buses during the time of day when they are not in use! BIG return for a very small investment!