Summer 2022
Public Policy Institute Insights
Friends –

When Community Advocates launched the Public Policy Institute in 2008 the intention was to address the root causes that brought community members to us for Basic Needs services. As our work has evolved through the years, we have adapted by providing up-to-date, culturally relevant information, resources, and advocacy that are linked to upstream factors leading to individual and family instability, such as low income, mental health issues, and substance misuse. You'll find details about our new and expanding initiatives throughout this newsletter. Once again, all of us at the Public Policy Institute are grateful for your steadfast support, partnership, and engagement.

In partnership,

Kari Southern
Deputy Director
Community Advocates Public Policy Institute
Welcome Harrison, Ismael, and Karina
– and Congratulations, Hannah!
We welcomed new team members this summer, with Harrison Bjorback as Strategic Prevention Framework-Partnership for Success Coordinator, Ismael Luna as Milwaukee County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition Coordinator, and Karina Perez as Stronger Families Milwaukee Engagement Specialist. In addition, Hannah Lepper is PPI's Prevention Manager after serving as Coordinator of the Southeast Region of the Alliance for Wisconsin Youth.
MCSAP International Overdose Awareness Day Memorial Event
Honored Friends and Loved Ones
The Milwaukee County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and partners marked International Overdose Awareness Day with a heartfelt gathering in Humboldt Park with lots of resources, including HOPE kits, the City of Milwaukee's Community Memorial Tree, Wisconsin Faces of Addiction and Recovery Quilts, as well as personal testimonials and healing. A big thank you goes to volunteers, vendors, and community members who showed up and honored those we loved and lost to overdose as well as loved ones who have survived overdose.

MCSAP’s International Overdose Awareness Day Memorial Event included partnering organizations BMO Harris Bank, CleanSlate Medical Group, Community Advocates, Community Medical Services, Gateway Foundation, Goal Chasers 2020 LLC, Milwaukee Fire Department, Rogers Behavioral Health, Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, Street Angels, Vivent Health, and Wraparound Milwaukee, just to name a few. You can take a look at our photo album at this link.
‘Discover Wellness’ Event Highlighted Health and Healing
Diverse groups from across Milwaukee County hosted individuals and families in South Milwaukee’s Grant Park on August 18 for a gathering that featured activities and resources intended to improve their health and wellness. “Discover Wellness” encompassed the eight dimensions of wellness—emotional, physical, occupational, intellectual, financial, social, environmental, and spiritual—to provide visitors with a broad range of activities that can help to enhance their health and well-being.

Highlights included comfort dogs, craft kits, sound baths, an obstacle course, coloring and drawing, a Walk for Wellness, a cooking demonstration, and more. Food was provided by Neu-Life Community Development’s Farmfork, an urban agriculture and culinary arts program for youth.

“Discover Wellness” sponsors included Healthiest Cudahy Collaboration; Healthiest Oak Creek Coalition; Healthy Mind, Healthy Greendale; Milwaukee County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition; Neu-Life Community Development; The Parenting Network; Volition Franklin; Wellpoint Care Network; West Allis-West Milwaukee Family Resource Center; and Community Advocates Public Policy Institute.
Stronger Families Milwaukee Program in the News
Our Stronger Families Milwaukee Program has caught the attention of the local media, with a story posted on Milwaukee NNS.

In April, PPI and partners Neu-Life Community Development and The Parenting Network were honored to launch the five-year pilot of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families’ Stronger Families Milwaukee Program to support families experiencing instability at home.

This referral-only program assists families who have had contact with Child Protective Services but have been found to have no need for further intervention by CPS. If they consent, families are referred to Community Advocates, where our team and partners provide case management and access to basic needs resources, such as rent assistance, parenting classes, positive youth development programming, and other wraparound resources that can help to improve circumstances in their home and prevent child abuse and neglect.

This project is led at Community Advocates by Manager Lauren Faulds with Engagement Specialists Jackson Neal, Karina Perez, and Christine Wiese. 
Identifying Solutions to Benefit Cliffs
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PPI is embarking on an exciting project in collaboration with the Greater Milwaukee Committee and the Chicago and Atlanta Federal Reserve Banks to understand and identify policy solutions to Benefit Cliffs. Benefit Cliffs occur when a small increase in earnings means a family no longer can receive a public benefit which was helping them to feed their families, afford medical care, access quality child care or otherwise balance their budget. 
 
The Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank has developed a tool to help both individuals and researchers understand how increases in earnings will affect their eligibility for public benefits. While we always hope that people will be able to leave economic benefits behind as they earn more money through work, we know that there are many examples where the additional earnings do not come close to equaling the value of the lost benefits. For example, if taking a job that pays $1 an hour more results in losing access to child care subsidies worth thousands of dollars per month, we can see that there are rational explanations for why a worker would stay at a lower earnings level in order to maintain access to the child care subsidy that is needed in order for him or her to go to work in the first place. 
 
PPI will be hosting this tool on our website, and we are also working with the Federal Reserve Bank and Greater Milwaukee Partners to identify and test some policy changes that would reduce Benefit Cliffs. Stay tuned for more developments! 
Better Ways to Cope Opportunity
This summer, PPI was thrilled to receive support for expanded prevention programming through Milwaukee County’s Better Ways to Cope initiative. We are partnering with therapist and trainer Ana Paula Soares to create a fully culturally competent mental health and substance use prevention workshop in Spanish for Milwaukee’s Hispanic/Latino residents. We will be developing the content and piloting it with focus groups in the coming months, with the aim of offering it to community members by Summer 2023.
Mental Health & Wellness Workshops
PPI offers a range of mental health and wellness workshops, including Mental Health First Aid for adult and adults who work with youth, suicide prevention, and verbal de-escalation techniques. Next week, we're offering a special in-person session of Mindful Gratitude. All are welcome to attend; workshops are free for those who live or work in Milwaukee County. Take a look at our calendar and reserve your space now. You can also find our Mental Health and Wellness Resource Guide at this link.
Tsunami of Support for Tenants and Landlords
Community Advocates continues to administer the rental assistance program in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties for those who have lost income due to the pandemic or other hardship. Begin the application process here. Property owners are encouraged to seek out alternative forms of assistance before turning to eviction to settle disputes with tenants. The Milwaukee Rental Housing Resource Center is always ready to help.
Community Advocates
2022 Board of Directors
Leadership
President: Jodi Wire | We Energies
Vice President: Bryan House | Foley & Lardner, LLP
Treasurer: Sandra Samse | Johnson Keland Management
Secretary: Sharon Jordan | Direct Supply

Board Members
Sheree Dallas Branch | The Salvation Army
Anne DeLeo | Community Volunteer
Natasha Dotson | Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative
Valerie Gabriel | Community Volunteer
Erin Henry | Northwestern Mutual
Gary Ingram | Igary Events
Pamela Klein | Community Volunteer
Jim Liedtke | Community Volunteer
Ashley Pavlic | Medical College of Wisconsin
Alexandra Urrutia-Comas | Advocate Aurora Health
Kate Venne | Brady Corporation
Kari Southern | Community Advocates Public Policy Institute | 414-270-2999  | ksouthern@communityadvocates.net | ppi.communityadvocates.net