Thursday, January 11, 2024
2024 Report to the Community
Happy, healthy new year to you and yours!
Please join me for my annual “Representative’s Report to the Community”. I will share the work for constituents, our Towns of Needham, Dover, and Medfield, and the Commonwealth. Most importantly, I will listen and learn as we discuss your issues and concerns and plan for
the work of 2024.
See you soon!
- Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with the Needham Diversity Initiative on Monday, January 15th, from 10 am to 11:30 am. The event will be held at the Needham High School Auditorium, and doors will open at 9:30 am. The event is free to the public and refreshments will be provided. Refer to the graphic above for more information.
- The Needham Police are asking residents to stop using mail drop boxes. Suspects have been entering stand-alone mailboxes and stealing its contents. All mail should be brought directly into the post office during hours of operation. If you have used the mailboxes, it is suggested that you monitor your bank statements. You do not need to contact the police unless there are irregularities in your bank account. For more details, click here.
- The Needham Free Library is seeking teen volunteers for its all-new Teen Library Group. This is a great way to serve community service hours. For questions on volunteering, contact Erin Bassett at email@example.com. Applications can be found at the Circulation and Reference Service Desks.
- Needham Affordable Housing Trust’s Small Repair Grant Program applications are due Friday, January 12. The program provides limited financial assistance to income-eligible senior and disabled households to help repair and rehabilitate existing owner-occupied housing units in Needham. Grants up to $5,000 per applicant are available. Completed applications must be received by Friday, January 12, 2024. To learn more about the program and how to apply, click here.
- Dover Unplugged’s The Caring Series will resume on January 12 with a conversation about the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival (PPC). This Dover Unplugged event is timed to coincide with and honor the observation of MLK Day Weekend. Join the conversation to see what the Poor People’s Campaign is doing to fight poverty. For more details, click here.
- Persons over the age of 65 may qualify for tax relief exemption programs. Property Tax Exemption for Person Over 65 (Clause 41c) administered by the Assessor’s Office may qualify seniors for an exemption that discharges a taxpayer from the legal obligation to pay a part of the tax assessed for the fiscal year. Other property tax relief exemption programs are available. Applications are due April 1, 2024, for fiscal year 2024. Contact the Assessor’s office at 508-785-0032 ext. 241 for an application or additional information.
- Medfield’s Blake Middle School will be holding its annual blood drive on Monday, January 15th in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. This year will be the Middle School’s 10th year holding the event. The drive will be held at the Blake Middle School from 8 am to 2 pm. For more details and donation times, click here.
- Nomination papers for the Annual Town Election are now available at the Town Clerk’s office. Nomination papers are due back to the Town Clerk’s office by February 5th at 5 pm. The Annual Town Election will be held on Monday, March 25th. To view open positions, click here.
- The Blue Moon Bagel Cafe and Medfield Lions Annual Coat Drive will continue through February! Bring your new or gently used coats to Blue Moon Cafe and drop them in the collection box located just inside the front door. Coat donations will continue to be accepted through February 28th. For more information, click here.
- Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would help to prevent abuse and exploitation and enhance protections for survivors. The bill combines several separate legislative initiatives into one bill that will help to prevent abuse and exploitation, while also enhancing protections for survivors. The legislation addresses teen sexting and image-based sexual assault, commonly referred to as “revenge porn”; expands the definition of abuse to include coercive control for the purposes of obtaining a restraining order; and extends the statute of limitations for certain domestic violence offenses from six years to 15 years. To view the full text of the bill, click here.
- Massachusetts Municipal Association will hold a free webinar about strategies for communicating during “challenging times” and “how to overcome feelings related to volatility.” It’s led by Kiana Pierre-Louis, chair of the Sharon Select Board and assistant dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Northeastern University. The webinar will share practical tips for fostering constructive dialogue and provide insights into how a trauma response can affect communication. To register for the free webinar, click here.
- The new Massachusetts Application for State Financial Aid (MASFA) is now open. This form will allow currently enrolled undocumented college students in Massachusetts to apply for state need-based financial aid for the first time. The MASFA is an alternative form that provides students who cannot complete the Free Application for State Financial Aid (FAFSA) due to their immigration status a way to apply for state need-based financial aid. To access the application, click here. To learn more about MASFA, click here.
- The Board of Early Education and Care unanimously approved transformative changes to how the state reimburses early education and care providers who accept state child care financial assistance, known as rates. Childcare providers across Massachusetts will start to receive at least a 5.5 percent increase to their daily per-child reimbursement rate beginning in February 2024, an increase of over $2,000 a year on average per child. They will also soon receive a one-time retroactive payment to account for the increased rates back to July 1, 2023. The approved rates make significant progress in addressing long-standing inequities in rate amounts by geographic region and age group of children served. Massachusetts will be using the cost of providing care as a metric for setting rates for the first time, investing $65 million from the state’s fiscal year 2024 budget to raise regions with similar economic indicators to the same rate amount. Providers will also start to receive higher reimbursements for infant and toddler care to better cover the true cost of providing care to these age groups. To learn more, click here.
- More than $15 million in grants were awarded to 67 organizations across the state through the Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Program (CERP). CERP is a competitive grant program that offers flexible operating grants to local collaborations for programming and projects that develop, strengthen, and invest in community economic priorities. The program aims to bring positive economic outcomes to communities that have been adversely impacted by the criminal justice system and poverty. To learn more, click here.
- The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has drafted updated procedures as part of its continuous efforts to improve its system of General Supervision under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and is seeking public comment on these drafts. The draft procedures include school monitoring procedures and Problem Resolution System Office procedures. Links to the draft procedures are posted on DESE’s special education webpage. The public comment period will close on Friday, January 26th.
- The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) has opened an application with $4 million in total funding available for large-scale capital projects at early education and care programs. Center-based nonprofit child care and out-of-school time programs that serve low-income families can apply for $500,000 – $1,000,000 per project to acquire property or renovate a facility, expanding capacity and promoting quality learning environments for young children. These grants will improve program facilities, add classrooms, and aim to increase the number of state-subsidized childcare spots across Massachusetts. To learn more, click here.
- The Biden administration continues to offer up to four free tests per household in anticipation of a potential increase in COVID cases during the fall and winter months. At-home testing is essential to slow the spread of the virus and reduce the number of new cases across the Commonwealth as the weather gets colder and more events move indoors, increasing the risk of transmission. To place an order, visit COVIDTests.gov.