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Melony A. Price-Rhodes leads the Federal Reimbursement Unit (FRU), a long-term contract that provides research, technical expertise and human capacity to Fairfax County’s Department of Family Services Child Protective Services (CPS), Foster Care and Adoptions (FC&A), and the Fairfax/Falls Church Children's Services Act (CSA) Programs.  The FRU team, with a 23+ year history, is comprised of research faculty and staff, with vast expertise in revenue maximization for children and youth being served by the above mentioned programs.  

These funding streams include Title IV-E, Supplemental Security Income (Title XVI), Social Security (Title II) Benefits, Child Support (Title IV-D), and Medicaid (Title XIX).

The FRU continues to refine multiple processes so that fewer county tax dollars are spent to support children who are in foster care placement or in receipt of CSA funds and more will be reimbursed from the Federal Government and parent(s) of the children.  

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Regan Price, recent graduate of the Virginia Tech Master of Public Administration Program (May ’22), completed an internship at the UN with IPG funding. Ms. Price wrote a policy brief entitled, “Furthering the targets of SDG5 on gender equality through building strong public institutions and strengthening collaboration,” alongside senior staff members of the United Nations and in collaboration with Dr. Max Stephenson, Director, and Mary Beth Dunkenberger, Associate Director, of VTIPG. It examines the role of strengthened government accountability and transparency, improved public service delivery and collaboration and enhanced public institution gender-responsiveness to address gender inequality across the world.

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Dr. David Moore, Senior Research Faculty, Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance (VTIPG), Mel Jones, Associate Director, Virginia Tech Center for Housing Research, and Lara Nagle, Community-Based Research Manager, VTIPG, conducted an eviction reduction needs assessment for Total Action for Progress (TAP), funded by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). 

The research team utilized demographic statistics, court administrative records, CoStar real estate data, and stakeholder interviews to synthesize information on the local housing market with information on eviction trends. Furthermore, the study team conducted a literature and policy review. Topics included causes and impacts of evictions, gaps in resources and services, and benefits of eviction prevention and diversion programs in Roanoke City. 

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The C2C project is a novel multi-stakeholder intervention using referral, crisis response resources, case management capacities, and backpacks equipped with potentially life-saving tools to address goals of: 1) timely referral of persons experiencing or at-risk of overdose or other substance use health-related consequence; 2) reduction in overdose and relapse; and 3) connecting consumers to appropriate harm reduction, treatment and recovery programs. The C2C project applies a Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) framework integrated into the proposed connection, referral, case management and treatment strategies. The C2C project is led by PI Mary Beth Dunkenberger, and supported by Laura York, Lara Nagle, and Liz Allen. 

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The Peer Empowered Addiction Recovery Living (PEARL) program of Piedmont Community Services (PCS) provides a 6-12 month residential stay in safe, supportive recovery housing, including access to counseling, case management, office-based opioid treatment (OBOT), and pregnancy and postpartum-specific care coordination. Mothers involved in this program also receive assistance to secure longer-term housing, healthcare, employment, and quality childcare. The overarching goal is to help mothers with substance use disorder (SUD) to stabilize and thrive through access to safe housing, comprehensive treatment, and wrap-around supports. PI Mary Beth Dunkenberger, Lara Nagle, and Laura York have provided technical assistance and grant proposal support to assist Piedmont Community Services with the launch and maintenance of the PEARL program, in partnership with Mel Jones and Andrew McCoy of the VT Center for Housing Research.

The PEARL program has been initiated in Franklin County with plans to eventually expand housing resources into the Piedmont Community Services service area that includes Franklin, Henry, and Partick Counties, and Martinsville City. If you are interested in supporting this initiative, please contact Monica Flora, Treatment and Recovery Coordinator at Piedmont, or Mary Beth Dunkenberger.

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PI Dr. David Moore and Lara Nagle are supporting TAP’s triennial Community Needs Assessment (CNA) including the counties of Alleghany, Bath, Botetourt, Craig, Roanoke, and Rockbridge, and the cities of Buena Vista, Covington, Lexington, Roanoke, and Salem. Completion of a triennial needs assessment is a requirement for community action agencies like TAP, with the most recent assessment completed in 2019. TAP will use the assessment results to guide the continued development and improvement of its programs and services based on the Results Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA) cycle.

The final CNA will meet the Community Services Block Grant Organizational Standards by including statistical data, survey data, and qualitative information, including interviews with key agency, community and client stakeholders. The CNA must identify the top needs in the service area that include individual-, household-, and community-level needs and the causes of those needs. It will consider the impact of COVID-19 and the effects the pandemic has had on TAP’s communities. The CNA will also identify community and agency assets that can be brought to bear to address needs and the quality and accessibility of those assets.

Max StephensonLara Nagle and Andy Morikawa, in addition to CCC members Kim FelixJoong Won Kim and C. Meranda Flachs-Surmanek, have partnered with Reynolds Homestead, the Community Design Assistance Center (CDAC), and Envision Critz to conduct a series of community workshops for the enhancement of the Critz, Virginia community including a renovation design for a historic home located adjacent to the Hardin Reynolds Memorial School, as well as a land-use plan for the 13-acre plot surrounding the home. 

The design envisions the creation of a community center oriented around arts and cultural programming that serves all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds in the community. Once finalized, the nonprofit Envision Critz will take the lead with fundraising and partnership development to promote the project within the local community.

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The Re-Employment, Support, and Training for the Opioid Related Epidemic (RESTORE) program provided by Total Action for Progress (TAP) has assisted women directly and indirectly impacted by the opioid epidemic by providing career services and job training. Substance use disorder (SUD) rates in the service area of the Roanoke and New River Valleys as well as Alleghany Highlands have increased, particularly during COVID-19, increasing the need for this program.

PI Mary Beth Dunkenberger and Lara Nagle conducted a program evaluation of RESTORE analyzing administrative data and findings from surveys and interviews with participants, RESTORE staff and training providers.

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Mare from the Inside is a multi-stakeholder, international research and artistic partnership led by Professors Desirée Poets, Max Stephenson, and Nicholas Barnes, as well as community organizer Henrique Gomes de Silva, and graduate students Andreza Jorge and Molly Todd. The team has been conducting ongoing research documenting the lives of residents of the Complexo da Maré in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, through library exhibits, roundtable discussions, and written works. 

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