State Ends Contract w/ Pro-Marriage Group - 9/04

Smart Marriages ® cmfce
Mon Sep 13 14:43:37 EDT 2004


subject: State Ends Contract w/ Pro-Marriage Group - 9/04


Maybe things would have turned out better if they'd attended Smart Marriages
instead of Fatherhood Conferences. Lots of good people in this part of
Virginia - hope some of you can pick up this grant. Please fill me in.
- diane

- AFTER $227,000, STATE ENDS CONTRACT WITH PRO-MARRIAGE GROUP
The Virginian-Pilot
x September 11, 2004
By ELIZABETH SIMPSON

The goal of the Hampton Roads Healthy Marriage Coalition was a noble one:
Strengthen family relationships and get parents more involved with their
children, even if they don?t live in the same house.

On paper, the proposal by the upstart nonprofit group in Hampton looked
inspiring enough to win a million-dollar grant, mostly federal money, along
with a few state dollars. But one year and $227,000 later, the office is
locked and empty, and the director gone, with little to show for the money
spent.

Now the department is looking for another organization to complete the
mission of the grant, which still has three years and $800,000 to go.

Virginia Commissioner of Social Services Maurice Jones said he believes his
department erred in giving the organization the grant in the first place,
but he said it learned valuable lessons about how to go about selecting
nonprofit agencies for federal grants.

?When you do this kind of work, it requires not only a commitment to the
objective, but a well-managed enterprise,? Jones said. ?I did not see that
competence in this organization?s staff.?

The former director of the project, Jim Babineaux, reached through an e-mail
address in Rio Rancho, N.M., where he now lives, said he believes the
program was effective and operating ?beyond federal and state expectations?
when he left the organization in late March.

But a former board member, Chuck Loomis, said the organization had
disagreements with the state, which led to the withdrawal of the grant.

The Department of Social Services is awaiting word from federal grant
administrators and state officials about whether it should attempt to
retrieve any of the money.

Sherri Heller, commissioner for the Office of Child Support Enforcement for
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said Thursday that her
department has reviewed a preliminary copy of the audit.

She said her department also will review the final audit and expenditures to
determine whether they are all legitimate items reimbursable by the grant.
Then, federal and state officials will discuss whether to return any of the
grant money to the federal office.

Heller said the grants are experimental in nature, and designed for grass
roots activities by community people. As a result, ?you sometimes get a
fiscal agent without the experience or confidence to handle a million-dollar
grant,? Heller said.

Jones said his biggest concern was that the organization failed to raise an
annual $125,000 in matching seed money required in the contract. The
organization also fell short in appointing a broad, community-based board of
directors, did not follow through on fledging projects and lacked internal
financial controls, said Jones and a state contract manager.

The main goal of the grant from the department was to fund demonstration
projects to help the staggering number of children who do not receive
support from non custodial parents. The idea was to find ways to increase
child-support payments, promote healthy marriages, and provide relationship
skills to couples and unwed parents. In 2003, the federal government gave
three of the grants to state child-support enforcement divisions in
Virginia, Michigan and Idaho, which in turn doled them out to community
agencies. Since then, similar grants have been awarded in four other states.

Virginia awarded the grant to the Hampton Roads Healthy Marriage Coalition,
which was proposed by Hampton-based Parents Educating Parents Inc. Todd
Areson, contract manager of the grant for the state?s Division of Child
Support Enforcement, said the state provided the first year?s matching funds
of $125,000, and the organization was to raise the same amount each year for
the remaining three years. The organization started several projects in late
2003.

One was a mentorship program in which seasoned couples were to work with
parents in less-stable families to develop relationship skills.

The organization also conducted some seminars and workshops to help people
strengthen their marriages and relationships. Also, the group pledged to get
churches and faith-based organizations more involved in teaching couples
about healthy relationships.

Areson said some of the first steps were taken, but attempts at
follow-through faltered this year. He said the attempt to rally churches and
faith-based groups failed to get more than a couple of groups involved.
Seminars were held to train mentors, but few were hooked up with other
families. The coalition was to build liaisons with community groups that
already existed, but little of that was done, Areson said.

According to the organization?s Web site, several employees did attend a
number of national conferences. For instance, the director and other staff
members attended marriage and fatherhood conferences in Washington, New
Orleans, and Orlando.

The group failed to appoint a community-based board of directors, state
officials said, and still had several openings to fill on a nine-member
board.

In March, Areson said, he got wind of a personnel issue with the
organization. Areson would not comment on what the problem was, but he said
he asked the director and another employee to resign. Areson said he then
asked the remaining board members to come up with a plan to get the program
moving in the right direction.

But as the weeks and months passed, he said, board members were not
?stepping up to the plate x in providing a strategic plan and periodic
reports.

?My gut feeling was this was going south instead of north,? Areson said.

In April, Areson recommended that an audit be conducted. He said the audit,
which was recently made final, showed poor financial controls, sloppy
bookkeeping, use of grant money for objectives not related to the grant?s
proposal, and ?mingling? of different grants, which was not permitted by the
contract.

In the past couple of months, many of the board members have resigned. By
late August, state officials removed the furnishings from the office on West
Queen?s Way. The state attorney general?s office is also reviewing the
audit.

Loomis said the termination of the grant led to the folding of both the
Healthy Marriage Coalition and its parent organization, Parents Educating
Parents. ?The grant was the largest part of our funding,? Loomis said. ?This
is what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket.?

Loomis said that he and Babineaux, the project?s former director, thought
the agency was beginning to do good work but that it struggled to raise
money. ?I can tell you that was huge,? Loomis said. He said the state and
the organization didn?t agree on whether objectives were met.

Areson and Jones said the next organization chosen to fulfill the mission
will need to prove it is capable of pitching in $125,000 a year during the
remaining three years of the grant, and also that it is adept at handling
grants. It also must have strong internal policies and procedures in place
long enough to establish a solid track record, they said.

Areson also believes that the organization needs more input from government
agencies, such as court and child-support enforcement offices, in order to
reach the population targeted by the grant.

Jones said his department will first try to find a replacement organization
in Hampton Roads. But he said if they cannot find one here, state officials
will look elsewhere in the state.

While Jones said that the department failed to adequately screen and select
an appropriate organization, he also said that was the chance they took to
get a grassroots, community-based group.

?Pilots are in and of themselves experiments,? Jones said. ?I would not go
so far as to say it?s been a waste. We learned we need to be more rigorous
in evaluating organizations.?


1999-April 1999-April.txt 1999-April.txt.gz 1999-August 1999-August.txt 1999-August.txt.gz 1999-December 1999-December.txt 1999-December.txt.gz 1999-February 1999-February.txt 1999-February.txt.gz 1999-January 1999-January.txt 1999-January.txt.gz 1999-July 1999-July.txt 1999-July.txt.gz 1999-June 1999-June.txt 1999-June.txt.gz 1999-March 1999-March.txt 1999-March.txt.gz 1999-May 1999-May.txt 1999-May.txt.gz 1999-November 1999-November.txt 1999-November.txt.gz 1999-October 1999-October.txt 1999-October.txt.gz 1999-September 1999-September.txt 1999-September.txt.gz 2000-April 2000-April.txt 2000-April.txt.gz 2000-August 2000-August.txt 2000-August.txt.gz 2000-December 2000-December.txt 2000-December.txt.gz 2000-February 2000-February.txt 2000-February.txt.gz 2000-January 2000-January.txt 2000-January.txt.gz 2000-July 2000-July.txt 2000-July.txt.gz 2000-June 2000-June.txt 2000-June.txt.gz 2000-March 2000-March.txt 2000-March.txt.gz 2000-May 2000-May.txt 2000-May.txt.gz 2000-November 2000-November.txt 2000-November.txt.gz 2000-October 2000-October.txt 2000-October.txt.gz 2000-September 2000-September.txt 2000-September.txt.gz 2001-April 2001-April.txt 2001-April.txt.gz 2001-August 2001-August.txt 2001-August.txt.gz 2001-December 2001-December.txt 2001-December.txt.gz 2001-February 2001-February.txt 2001-February.txt.gz 2001-January 2001-January.txt 2001-January.txt.gz 2001-July 2001-July.txt 2001-July.txt.gz 2001-June 2001-June.txt 2001-June.txt.gz 2001-March 2001-March.txt 2001-March.txt.gz 2001-May 2001-May.txt 2001-May.txt.gz 2001-November 2001-November.txt 2001-November.txt.gz 2001-October 2001-October.txt 2001-October.txt.gz 2001-September 2001-September.txt 2001-September.txt.gz 2002-April 2002-April.txt 2002-April.txt.gz 2002-August 2002-August.txt 2002-August.txt.gz 2002-December 2002-December.txt 2002-December.txt.gz 2002-February 2002-February.txt 2002-February.txt.gz 2002-January 2002-January.txt 2002-January.txt.gz 2002-July 2002-July.txt 2002-July.txt.gz 2002-June 2002-June.txt 2002-June.txt.gz 2002-March 2002-March.txt 2002-March.txt.gz 2002-May 2002-May.txt 2002-May.txt.gz 2002-November 2002-November.txt 2002-November.txt.gz 2002-October 2002-October.txt 2002-October.txt.gz 2002-September 2002-September.txt 2002-September.txt.gz 2003-April 2003-April.txt 2003-April.txt.gz 2003-August 2003-August.txt 2003-August.txt.gz 2003-December 2003-December.txt 2003-December.txt.gz 2003-February 2003-February.txt 2003-February.txt.gz 2003-January 2003-January.txt 2003-January.txt.gz 2003-July 2003-July.txt 2003-July.txt.gz 2003-June 2003-June.txt 2003-June.txt.gz 2003-March 2003-March.txt 2003-March.txt.gz 2003-May 2003-May.txt 2003-May.txt.gz 2003-November 2003-November.txt 2003-November.txt.gz 2003-October 2003-October.txt 2003-October.txt.gz 2003-September 2003-September.txt 2003-September.txt.gz 2004-April 2004-April.txt 2004-April.txt.gz 2004-August 2004-August.txt 2004-August.txt.gz 2004-December 2004-December.txt 2004-December.txt.gz 2004-February 2004-February.txt 2004-February.txt.gz 2004-January 2004-January.txt 2004-January.txt.gz 2004-July 2004-July.txt 2004-July.txt.gz 2004-June 2004-June.txt 2004-June.txt.gz 2004-March 2004-March.txt 2004-March.txt.gz 2004-May 2004-May.txt 2004-May.txt.gz 2004-November 2004-November.txt 2004-November.txt.gz 2004-October 2004-October.txt 2004-October.txt.gz 2004-September 2004-September.txt 2004-September.txt.gz attachments database index.html pipermail.pck x x.sh
To SUBSCRIBE or UNSUBSCRIBE, or Change your subscription address,
use the form on our website (http://www.smartmarriages.com). Click
Newsletter - right under the puzzle piece.

This newslist shares information on marriage, divorce and educational
approaches. Opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by members of the
Coalition.

This is a moderated list. Replies are read by Diane Sollee, editor. Please
indicate if your response is NOT to be shared with the list. PLEASE include
your email address in with your signature.

To read ALL past posts to the newsletter, visit the Archive at:
http://archives.his.com/smartmarriages/

9th Annual Smart Marriages Conference, Adam's Mark Dallas June 23 - 26, 2005
Pre and Post Conference Training Institutes June 21 - 29, 2005
Subscribe to the free e-newslist at www.smartmarriages.com
List your program in the Directory of Classes at www.smartmarriages.com
Order conference audio & video tapes/CD/DVDs: 800-241-7785 or
playbacknow.com

Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education, LLC (CMFCE)
Diane Sollee, Director
5310 Belt Rd NW, Washington, DC 20015-1961
www.smartmarriages.com 202-362-3332
cmfce at smartmarriages.com

FAIR USE NOTICE: This e-newsletter contains copyrighted material the use of
which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We
make such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of
marriage, family, couples, divorce, legislation, family breakdown, etc. We
understand this constitutes a 'fair use' of such material as provided
for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17
U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit
to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included
information for research and educational purposes. For more information go
to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use
copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond
'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.







More information about the SmartMarriages mailing list