Community Health and WellnessWebinarPublication Date: Apr 28, 2022

The MMA Human Services Council’s first meeting of the year, on April 28 in Westborough, focused on the impacts of COVID-19 on Massachusetts residents.

UMass Amherst economist Marta Vicarelli and a team of researchers from the UMass School of Public Policy gave a presentation about their recently released research report, “Impacts of COVID-19: A Survey of Massachusetts Households.”

Vicarelli and her team focused on key findings relevant to human services professionals. They said the survey found that Massachusetts households experienced significant effects on income and careers, child care and educational outcomes, and mental and physical health during the pandemic’s first year.

Following the presentation, a panel of local human services professionals discussed initiatives that their communities have developed to address some of the challenges detailed in the report.

Tony Serio, assistant director of Youth and Family Services in Lexington, discussed the mental health services that his department provides for community members. He also discussed two critical areas of need that Lexington will fund with American Rescue Plan Act money in the years ahead: connecting residents with mental health clinicians through Eliot Human Services, and addressing food insecurity.

Andrea Egmont, director of Youth and Recreational Services in Newburyport, discussed a community-driven initiative in her city to support positive youth development. The initiative, called Youthrive, is a systemic approach to working with young people, developing services and supports, designing programs, and organizing in the community with the goal of ensuring young people are empowered, engaged, supported, inspired and valued.

HSC President Laura Ducharme, the community resources coordinator in Acton, discussed her town’s child care subsidy program, which, in partnership with Boxborough, Littleton, Maynard and Westford, has been able to provide grants for child care to families that are traditionally ineligible for vouchers but still struggle to cover the costs of care. Ducharme said Acton will be allocating some ARPA funding to continue these subsidies into the next two fiscal years.

Childcare Subsidy Program – town of Acton (250K PDF)
Dept. of Human Services – town of Lexington (500K PDF)
Youth Thrive – town of Newburyport (1M PDF)
Socio-economic Impacts of COVID-19 on Mass. Households: An Empirical Study – UMASS (5M PDF)