In December 2009, Friends Outside launched the pilot Friends and Families Neighborhood Center (FFNC) in Stockton, California to assist formerly incarcerated people and their families in leading positive and productive lives after release. The Center is a model of carefully crafted services available pre and post release. Data on outcomes is being carefully evaluated to ensure continuous improvement.
Utilizing a strengths-based, family-centered treatment model, the Center is designed to increase the likelihood of positive reintegration into the community and successful family reunification, and to reduce recidivism.
In the Center, Friends Outside focuses on six different service areas: mental health, housing/homelessness, health, education, family support, and employment/income.
Friends Outside staff provides support and information how to on maintain contact with an incarcerated family member in state prison or county jail, including visiting information.
Staff serves as liaisons between family members, social service providers, and incarcerated people.
Staff are resources for referrals to community supportive services including housing, medical/mental health needs, income support, and employment/education.
Reentry assistance includes support groups for families and formerly incarcerated individuals, job club, individualized case management, and substance abuse education.
Current Services at the Friends and Families Center:
San Joaquin County Warrant Reduction Program (WRAP)
Friends Outside partners with the San Joaquin County Probation Department to reduce the number of warrants that are issued to individuals for failure to keep appointments with assigned probation officers. Upon referral, our WRAP team makes contact with the person in jail or in the community and provides assistance so they can avoid the issuance of a warrant and potential jail time. This hugely successful program is modeled after one provided by our Friends Outside affiliate in Santa Cruz County.
Since the launch of the WRAP program in October2012, the WRAP team has received 1060 referrals from the county, and has provided outreach and services to ensure that over 594 (56%) people did not receive warrants.
With jail costs at $125 per day, and the average offender serving 15 days, the estimated savings so far from this
The WRAP program also offers services to family members of the referred individuals free of charge. Case Managers have worked with over 350 formerly incarcerated individuals and their families on issues pertaining to their individual reentry plans. Friends Outside staff works collaboratively with the San Joaquin Probation Department to offer relevant programming and case management services to reduce the likelihood the individual will re-offend.
Friends Outside offers The Dads Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, in the San Joaquin County jail. It is open to incarcerated fathers, and provides one-on-one case management and group mentoring to strengthen family connections and assist with their reentry back into the community. We assess participants’ capacity to meet their personal and familial responsibilities by addressing issues pertaining to: life skill deficits, language barriers, income earning ability, and physical or mental challenges. Individuals are provided at least three months of pre-release and six months of post -release case management. We believe that every dad can be a great dad. Since the start of the contract in 2012, Friends Outside staff has enrolled more than 85 individuals in the program.
All of the participants that have been enrolled in the program have taken part in peer support group and have been given a mentor.
Many of the participants have increased their interactions with their children (writing, calling, and visiting) by at least 20%. Over 2/3 of the Dads have been enrolled in a cognitive behavioral class and over 1/3 are currently working on or have received employment. Another 1/3 of the participants are going back to school or staying home to take a more active role in parenting.
Wellness Reentry Program
In January 2012, Friends Outside received funding from The California Wellness Foundation for a “pilot demonstration project, the Wellness Reentry Program”. The goals of this program are to: educate and inform the reentry population regarding healthy lifestyle practices; to remove barriers in accessing healthcare; to provide information about preventative health practices; and, to motivate people to engage in health affirming activities. So far, Friends Outside staff has worked with 205 individuals and their families.
Only three individuals have returned to incarceration, an impressive achievement.
Many of the 203 individuals were at high risk for unhealthy outcomes that could affect them, their families and the community. We found that
- Most had not been seen by a doctor over four years
- Most had not been seen by a dentist in over seven years
- Most were evaluated as being at risk for serious illness due to genetic or lifestyle factors.
In addition, over three-quarters of our clients experienced insufficient food resources and requested assistance in obtaining assistance thru CalFresh. Those who did not meet CalFresh requirements were helped to access local food banks or short-term assistance. In addition, the program has reached over 500 families with outreach health education and community referrals.
The Friends Outside Job Club provides bi-monthly workshops that focus on job readiness and building employment skills. This is a free program that is available to any person in the community who has been incarcerated at any point in their life.
The program deals with typical employment seeking issues and also offers a supportive avenue for individuals with a criminal record. Workshops include information on:
- Resume building
- Job search
- Mock interviewing
- Computer and other skills
- Explaining your record
- Dealing with difficult coworkers or managers
- Communicating your needs in the workplace
- Your rights as an employee
Family Support group
This group meets twice a month to discuss issues that family members of incarcerated people face. Meetings are held the first and fourth Tuesday of every month at the Friends and Family Center at 5:30 PM. These group sessions are available to anyone in the community, free of charge. Child Care and dinner are also provided.
In these meetings, family members are able to explore feelings and situations that may be difficult for others to understand, such as the anger, sadness, and frustration that can result from having an incarcerated family member.
Friends Outside realizes that incarcerated individuals reentering society also need the support of their community to be successful. The Family Support group discusses any and all issues that reentering people may face when dealing with family, community, employment or any other life issues.