Model Reentry Programs for Women
THE PROGRAM for Women & Families has developed comprehensive reentry programs for women offenders that are grounded in best practices in the field, incorporating evidence-based and/or research-informed curriculum. Recidivism rates among women who completed these programs from 2007-2009 ranged from 20 to 25 percent over a 12-month period. These programs were developed at the local level over the last 15 years, each including detailed client and staff handbooks and can be replicated in a variety of community settings. Consulting services are available to assist organizations interested in replicating any of these programs. Please call or email Dr. Joyce Dougherty at 610-433-6556 x111 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Day Reporting Program
During this intensive, nine-week intermediate punishment program, women offenders gain skills essential to successful reentry to the community. Judges have the option of sentencing women to immediate work release in lieu of imprisonment with the stipulation that they complete the Day Reporting Program. The women served by this program typically faced daunting odds: 98 percent had a history of substance abuse; 61 percent had been previously diagnosed with a mental health disorder; 62 percent did not have a high school diploma or GED; 83 percent were unemployed at the time of their arrest or had no work history; and 81 percent were single mothers. Burdened by these odds, the women were at exceptionally high risk of perpetuating cycles of abuse, criminality and poverty and therefore ideal candidates for the Day Reporting Program.
The Day Reporting Program is a gender responsive program that incorporates evidence-based and research-informed curriculum in a community-based setting. It consists of six weeks of structured classroom instruction that includes cognitive behavioral restructuring, job readiness training, parenting education, and HIV prevention education and relapse prevention. The last three weeks of the program focus on finding and maintaining suitable employment prior to discharge from the correctional system. Women who successfully complete the program may return for free aftercare, including case management, individual counseling, employment counseling, housing counseling and family reunification services.
Family Reunification Reentry Initiative (FRRI)
In 2010, THE PROGRAM for Women & Families became the lead nonprofit partner responsible for the implementation of the federally funded Second Chance Act project, the Family Reunification Reentry Initiative in Lehigh County, PA. This was one of only seven Second Chance Act adult reentry projects nationally to focus exclusively on women offenders. The primary goal of the initiative was to reduce recidivism rates among women offenders and secondarily to establish a systemic reentry process that promotes effective prisoner reintegration by providing a continuity of services from jail to the community. As established in Lehigh County, it included:
- Parenting Inside Out. Women assessed to be in need of parenting skills were recruited to participate in Parenting Inside Out. Upon completion, women could participate in an on-going parent support group to help them cope with issues relating to separation from their children and problems that arose during supervised contact visits at the county jail.
- Thinking for a Change. In 2012-2013, FRRI was expanded to include the evidence-based, cognitive behavioral curriculum, Thinking for a Change designed to promote more positive thinking patterns and teach basic social and problem-solving skills.
- GED preparation classes. GED preparation classes were available to the women who did not have a high school degree and who tested at a ninth grade reading level or higher. Women who started classes while incarcerated at the county jail then were able to continue classes in the community immediately upon discharge.
- Family Group Conferencing (FGC). Women who participated in Parenting Inside Out and who had strong post-release support systems were considered for the post-release program, Family Group Conferencing (FGC). FGC is designed to empower family members and others central to the woman’s community-based support network to use their own strengths, energies and resources to create a workable reentry plan.
Women’s Residential Community Center (WRCC)
The Women’s Residential Community Center is a model reentry program that teaches the women the importance of taking full responsibility for their actions while helping them learn appropriate ways of coping to avoid re-offending. WRCC was originally designed to serve as a county work release facility and gave women offenders the opportunity to secure, or in some cases continue, employment while serving their sentences but from 1998 to 2011 it evolved into a state-of-the-art reentry center. Women came to the facility by court order or by order of the county jail’s treatment department. This 24/7 program provided services that gave the women the opportunity to address issues that led to their involvement in the criminal justice system, relying on an extensive network to help ensure that they return to the community as productive, law-abiding citizens and responsible mothers. Services included:
- Employment counseling and workshops
- Housing counseling and workshops
- Intensive case management
- Cognitive behavioral life skills instruction
- Grief and loss support groups
- HIV prevention education
- Parenting education and family reunification services