From DHSP head Ellen Semonoff herself this morning (Friday 4/22):
DHSP has "begun working" on the 2022-2023 Community Schools Afterschool Lottery. Good to know!
The "anticipated timeline" includes
Big thanks to the mom who forwarded this to me. And to Councilor Quinton Zondervan for forwarding it to her!
As of right now [Monday, June 9], this is still not up on DHSP's Community Schools website, so you're in on a secret.
For context, a Cambridge parent told me that, "Somervillle ran its lottery in March and they notify families by June so that they have enough time to hire staff and so families can plan." (See Somerville afterschool.)
In the spirit of complete transparency, below is the entire email from Ellen (It's mostly about their Summer Camp program). I looked up and added the titles of the people on the email. The info on After-Schools is the very last paragraph, bolded below.
(There's also some fascinating stuff on why everyone missed the Summer Camp announcement because it seemed like spam.)
---------- Forwarded message [By Councilor Zondervan to a parent then to me] ---------
From: Semonoff, Ellen <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, Apr 22, 2022 at 10:20 AM
Subject: Community School Summer Camp Lottery
To: City Council, Louis DePasquale [City Manager]
Cc: Lee Gianetti [City Manager Director of Communications and Community Relations], Michelle Farnum [Assistant Director, DHSP], Bridget Martin [Communications Manager at DHSP]
Dear Mayor Siddiqui and Members of the City Council,
I wanted to share information with you about the Community School Summer Camp lottery that I shared with the City Manager.
We are happy to report that as of Tuesday, April 19th, 668 children were sent summer camp placement notifications. Of the 668 applicants, 328 placements were given to priority families (families whose household income is less than 65% of HUD Area Median Income (AMI). We were able to place 98% of all applicants in one of the camps they selected as a preferred choice in their Viewpoint application. Families who received a camp placement have been instructed to register for camp sessions in the DHSP Trax system. For help and questions, they can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-349-6200.
This was the first year that DHSP used the Viewpoint system for the Community Schools Summer Camp Lottery application. The system is a secure way to store applicant data and allowed staff and families to communicate directly about applications during the lottery period. It also enabled us to streamline our external communication to families and our internal workflows.
One drawback of the Viewpoint system is that it sends generic notifications to families’ email inboxes when a new notification letter is available in their Viewpoint account. While many families have been able to navigate the system and complete the registration process to accept their seat, a few community members shared their concern that they found the generic communication unclear or spam-like. To ensure that our communication was as clear as possible, we sent an email yesterday afternoon to all families who applied to the lottery (aside from those who already successfully registered) to provide detailed instructions for how they can access their placement letters through the Viewpoint system. Staff are available to support families and have been answering emails and calls from families.
Our Community Schools Summer Camp Lottery was open online from March 14-April 1. Our programs will operate from July 11-August 19 in 10 schools (not Cambridgeport, because of building repairs).
In addition to our typical outreach strategies, including working with the schools to share information with families, this year we also partnered with The Village to host an in-person outreach event that prioritized outreach to low-income and families of color.
We received 678 eligible applications by our application deadline of April 1, 2022. 48% (328) were from families whose income was below 65% HUD AMI. This is a huge increase even from fall of 2021, where 36% of all applicants met the criteria. We placed 668 children into available camp seats, with only 10 children in the waiting pool. Any applications received after the deadline of April 1 were automatically added to the waiting pool. Applications will continue to be accepted until the start of camp.
We have asked families to accept or decline their offered seat within a week’s time. Our staff will reach out to every family that has not responded by that date to help them enroll or to determine that they want to decline the seat.
We anticipate that there will be movement on the lists, and that all applicants who applied by the original deadline will be offered a seat this summer. We will also be running three summer camps jointly with the School Department, serving up to an additional 300 children identified by the schools for additional support this summer. Some children who have accepted seats in our Community School camps may choose instead to accept seats in the joint programs, and we will support them to do that.
The Cambridge Youth Program (CYP) Summer Programs Lottery was held from March 14-April 15. Placement and communication to families will happen during the week of April 25.
We have begun working with the City’s IT department to design the 2022-2023 Community Schools Afterschool Lottery. The anticipated timeline includes online lottery applications becoming available in mid-May, placement happening in early June and notification to families happening the last week in June. We will incorporate family feedback from the Summer Camp notification process into clearer communication for the notification steps of the 2022-2023 Community Schools Afterschool Lottery.
Assistant City Manager
Department of Human Service Programs
Eugenia Schraa & Amanda Beatty
Cambridge moms of young kids, going slowly nuts trying to wrangle basic info from the City about schools, after schools, preschools, and probably much more.