For over a year, Single Mothers on the Move (SMOTM) has been trying to arrange a face-to-face public meeting with Michael Starkowski, Commissioner of the State Department of Social Services (DSS).
Now it looks likes the group will finally get its wish. Next Monday, June 23, SMOTM and Starkowski will meet at 6 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 120 Sigourney Street, Hartford. The meeting is open to the public.
Single Mothers on the Move is a group of Hartford woman who depend primarily on State and Federal financial assistance to raise their families. The group was formed by Hartford Organizing for Power and Equality (HOPE).
SMOTM was scheduled to meet with Starkowski last summer but he had to bow out due to a scheduling conflict. Instead, Starkowski’s Chief of Staff, Walter Gaffney, attended the meeting (see Hartford News, August 22, 2007). Since then, the group has met with Gaffney several times and SMOTM member Sabrina Flintroy said he has been “very helpful.” Still, she added, the group has continued to press for the meeting with Starkowski because, “he’s the one on top, he makes the decisions.”
HOPE Organizer Jennifer Hadlock said SMOTM members have numerous issues they want to discuss with Starkowski.
Many of those issues center around the DSS office in Hartford which serves the city and 14 surrounding towns. Flintroy said she and other members of SMOTM almost always get an answering machine when they call their social worker and must leave a message – an almost pointless task for those who do not have phones of their own. Flintroy also said that DSS had told the group last year that the physical layout of the office would be altered to allow visitors more privacy when speaking with their social workers. Such changes have not taken place, she said.
Hadlock said SMOTM also want to ask Starkowski why $8.8 million that was earmarked for the Rental Assistance Program (RAP) was never spent.
SMOTM members also said that the State’s Care4Kids program, which provides free childcare for parents trying to re-enter the job force, takes too long to go into effect as the client must submit three paycheck stubs before they can receive assistance from the program.
“Three or four weeks is a long time to pay a babysitter on your own,” said Flintroy, “a lot of people just can’t afford to wait for the payments to kick in.”
For more information on Monday’s meeting, call 523-4870.