Prison Health and Reentry Support Programs
MILA Fellows Reentry Family Support Program- Atlanta
Community Voices: Health Care for the Underserved at Morehouse School of Medicine put into practice a unique program for formerly incarcerated African American fathers. The program builds and improves life skills. The program also provides direct contact to reentry services. Services provided from the program allow men to meet legal, financial, and familial requirements. The men are thus expected to become a positive impact on their children, family, and community. The MILA Fellows program has two overarching goals: 1) to build healthy and active relationships between the fathers and their families, especially their children, and 2) to prevent participants from returning to jail or prison throughout the duration of the program and reduce recidivism thereafter.
Group sessions focused on enhancing success, strengthening social networks, building family relationships, and creating plans to accomplish personal goals are provided for program participants. Additionally, workshops and seminars on legal matters and child support issues are provided for program participants. A case manager works with each participant to increase their involvement in the lives of their children and family, manage activities associated with client services such as job readiness, parenting and co-parenting, and community-based activities, and track their progress through the program. Participants also take part in Family Fun Day events, where participants are encouraged to spend time with their children and families in family activities supported by Community Voices such as movie screenings, sporting events, and field trips.
Participants have received monthly grocery cards and transportation gift cards, assistance with child support issues that have resulted in the reinstate of participants’ driver’s licenses, free legal advice, and free comprehensive health screenings. We have also helped secure employment for nearly half of the participants. Our advocacy efforts on the radio, in reentry forums and community town hall events, and in court with participants have resulted in support of the program and release of participants that could have otherwise be reentering jail or prison. No participant has returned to jail or prison since enrolling in the MILA Fellows Program. This project was funded by the WK Kellogg Foundation.
MILA Fellows Reentry Family Support Program – Mississippi
The MILA Fellows program has been a success in Atlanta and has been given the green light to be replicated in four counties in Mississippi. As a result, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in partnership with Community Voices: Health Care for the Underserved at Morehouse School of Medicine established the MILA Fellows Reentry Family Support Program in Mississippi to provide services to 100 African-American fathers released from prison in the past 180 days and their children less than 15 years of age from Coahoma, Harrison, Hinds, and Sunflower Counties in Mississippi. The anticipated population served will consist of 25 fathers and 25 children per county. The program seeks to build and improve the life skills of these men and children as well as provide direct contact to reentry services. It is the hope that these reentry services will allow men to meet legal, financial, and familial requirements. The men can thus become a positive impact on their community and further enhance their relationships with their families.
With the ultimate goal of keeping men from returning to prison, the MILA: Mississippi program consists of weekly group activities lasting three months. All participants, including both fathers and their children, will participate in weekly group sessions focused on enhancing their success, strengthening their social networks, building family relationships, and creating a concise plan to accomplish each of their goals. Participants will also take part in volunteer opportunities around the community as well as workshops and seminars to open doorways to their success. The children who participate will be heavily involved in weekly children focused programs and family activities including a movie night, sporting event, outdoor field trip, and volunteer service project. These family activities will be a time for fun, networking, and making future plans together. Participants will also be expected to keep in contact with program staff throughout the duration of the program.
Throughout the implementation phase of the project the following outcomes are expected:
- Provide men with assistance to find long-term and stable employment
- Enable men to re-establish a strong, healthy relationship with their family and child (ren) through relationship skill building activities
- Provide children with life skills to cope with issues, make informed decisions, and make positive impacts at home and in their community
- Provide children and families with support to needed services
- Decrease in the chances of these men going back to jail or prison
- Educational awareness on how best to live healthy with physical fitness and good nutritional diets
Just For Men
The “Just for Men” program seeks to support underserved and/or un-insured men specifically in Fulton and DeKalb Counties, Georgia. This program helps to build on the dearth of research on men’s health issues and expand awareness and understanding of complex health and social issues related specifically to poor men of color and to build our institutional and national capacity to address those issues. We at Community Voices have scoured the Atlanta Metropolitan area for available men’s services and men-specific health organizations and unfortunately the number of programs in operation is extremely limited. Just For Men allows us to lay the foundation on which to build this important work.
Just For Men has conducted research through Key Informant Interviews, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews with randomly selected men from the community whom are underserved and/or uninsured. This research allows us to assess attitudes about seeking health care, perceived barriers to care, insurance status, health status concerns, health literacy (e.g., ability to understand prescriptions and instructions), and knowledge of what the changes will be as a result of the Affordable Care Act (as a way of teaching the details about the Act). We have also trained Community Health Workers (CHWs) to assist in community outreach. We co-hosted a health fair for men and their families to receive free health screenings and health information.
Thus far, we have served over 300 members of the community; nearly half were underserved and/or un-insured men targeted for this project; at a community health fair. Participants were provided with information on the Affordable Care Act, free health screenings, access to health provider organizations, a panel of health experts, and the opportunity to speak with elected officials. Future anticipated outcomes of the Just For Men project are:
- Development of a needs assessment tool to be utilized with underserved, un-insured men concerning health issues and concerns
- Development and dissemination of a community resource guide that will include key health information and education about how to identify and locate options for affordable health services
- CHWs will engage underserved and uninsured men and advocate for and encourage policy change on pertinent men’s health related issues, especially those affecting underserved, un-insured men in the areas around Morehouse School of Medicine, including the West End, Mechanicsville, and English Avenue.