Position created to oversee social services Friday, July 14, 2006
David McLaughlin 508-626-4338 Metrowest Daily News
FRAMINGHAM -- The town is creating a new job to keep an eye on social service agencies, a position recommended by a study committee that tracked explosive growth in the number of nonprofit sites since 1990.

Town Manager Julian Suso is making final changes to a job description for a human service program and policy coordinator.  He expects to advertise the job, which would pay between $71,900 and $86,000, by the end of July.

Suso is also about to advertise for the assistant manager job, which has been vacant since former assistant Mark Purple resigned in February.

"It's important to have backup and support.  This is a complex community that deserves that kind of attention," he said.

The job of human service coordinator was a key recommendation of the PILOT committee, which studied the impact of social service programs on the town.  Committee members disagreed on a number of findings and split into majority and minority factions, but both sides called for the new position.

"I'm delighted.  I think it's desperately needed," said Nick Sanchez, who served on the committee and was part of the majority.

According to the draft description, the position will provide "community oversight" of social services and develop "working partnerships to address homelessness and social service agency sitings."

The coordinator will also maintain relationships with government agencies as well as analyze state and federal legislation and planning.

When asked if the coordinator would block expansion of social services, Suso said that was not in the job description.  He also cautioned against jumping to conclusions about how the position would function.

"It's not about stopping anything.  It's mostly about communication and coordination," he said.

Sanchez said he hopes whoever gets the job will keep the community informed about projects and programs local agencies are planning.  But like Suso, he said the job will not focus on stopping programs.  Some may need expansion, while others may "deserve contraction."

"It's not to stop anything.  It's to know what is optimal from the point of view of the town," he said.

Wes Ritchie, a member of the PILOT committee's minority group, sees the coordinator as an official contact for social service agencies as well as someone who can help residents connect to services they may need.

"I'm hoping this person, in part, will be able to fill that void," he said.

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