Since the official launch of the CJP Warmline this past fall, Jewish social service agencies across the community have reported that the number of new Jewish families in financial distress who are accessing services has doubled, as compared to this time last year.
Our Anti-Poverty PartnersJewish Big Brothers Big Sisters (JBBBS)
Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly (JCHE)
Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS)
Jewish Family Service of Metrowest (JFS)
Jewish Vocational Service (JVS)
Through CJP’s Anti-Poverty Initiative, we have worked diligently with our partner agencies to create robust, coordinated resources for those in our community facing financial crisis. The CJP Warmline (1-800-CJP-9500) is a critical component of the Initiative, enabling a family to access comprehensive support with just one phone call.
The CJP Warmline is staffed by Lori Kagan, an experienced social worker who assesses each caller’s needs and connects him or her with client advocates, programs and services at our partner agencies.
According to recent demographic data, one in eight households in our Jewish community live in, or are in danger of sliding into, financial distress.
Kagan says that “People may be surprised to know what Jewish poverty looks like. It only takes one or two unexpected challenges for many people to encounter financial crisis. We constantly see people in Newton and Needham who don’t have enough food.”
As of early January, over 900 families have benefited from the support available through the Anti-Poverty Initiative.
Connecting clients with support
Once a client makes the initial call, Kagan assesses what services he or she might be eligible for, and connects the client with a case manager at one of the agencies. This case manager will make further referrals, coordinate services between agencies as necessary, and monitor and support the client’s needs over time.
Preliminary data shows that the leading causes of financial distress for families are job loss, mental health and medical issues, illustrating how easily a financial crisis can happen to anyone.
Through the Anti-Poverty Initiative, CJP has doubled funding available for financial and food assistance, and has also added 6 new case workers at the agencies.
Collaboration and employment support
In addition to increased funding and the launch of the Warmline, the Anti-Poverty Initiative has fostered a new level of inter-agency collaboration. Client needs run the gamut from housing, to emergency food, to job search assistance and beyond. With every agency specializing in various services and geographic areas, it’s not simple—but Kagan says the results are worth it.
“The increased collaboration is impressive. We’ve had situations where someone needs rent money to keep from being evicted and two agencies can collaborate and together they can come up with the money.”
Even more importantly, the Initiative is focused not just on averting a crisis, but on helping clients find long-term stability. Jewish Vocational Service is one of the key partners that provides a wide range of employment assistance.
“If someone is unemployed or underemployed, their case manager will refer them to JVS, where they can get one-on-one job coaching. It feels good to know that you’re not just sending someone to a one-size-fits-all workshop, but they’re getting one-on-one personalized help,” says Kagan.
Asking for help: don’t be embarrassed and sooner is better
If you or someone you know needs help, Kagan says it’s better to call sooner rather than later. “Most often people are calling about rent or mortgage issues—they are in a serious situation of not being able to pay and are scared of losing their home. That’s a tough place to be.”
Kagan says that her job is to listen, to make referrals and get people the help they need—so callers to the Warmline should expect compassion and understanding, not judgement.
“I try to let people know that they are not alone, and their situation is not unique, though I certainly understand it’s painful. The sooner you call, the sooner we can help.”
If someone you know is struggling to get by, we are here to help. Please encourage them to call the Warmline at 1-800-CJP-9500 or learn more about CJP’s Anti-Poverty Initiative.