Almost one in three adults in the United States has a criminal record that can prove to be a barrier to employment. Increasingly, state corrections departments and agencies that partner with them are assessing the work they do and how the criminal justice system should work. Rather than viewing corrections as merely punitive, reentry workforce development programs recognize that the criminal justice system offers a unique opportunity to ready inmates to address their social and life challenges.
Recidivism rates are close to 75% within five years when looking at incarcerated individuals, but there are studies indicating that helping former inmates find jobs can have a drastic effect on recidivism. A Manhattan Institute study found a 20% decrease in recidivism when looking at nonviolent offenders who participated in reentry employment programs.
However, reentry is a point at which the goals of the criminal justice, workforce development, family services, health and human services, and social services systems can converge. Sometimes having so many agencies and partners working in tandem is difficult to organize, track, manage, and evaluate. That means that it is sometimes difficult to implement or improve a reentry workforce program. That is the situation California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) found itself in.
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CDCR was mandated to reform its program by the federal government. Besides this mandate, a tremendous amount of the state’s budget was dedicated to corrections. By reducing recidivism, the state could improve its financial situation. In order to improve, the CDCR had to do a thorough assessment of their prison and parole programs, including those that were designed to reduce recidivism. At the time of the study, California had the highest recidivism rate in the country. Their assessment found that their existing programs were largely failing because they were under-supported, insufficient, and not appropriately targeting clients.
A number of recommendations for improvement came out of the assessment, including a need for evidence-based practice and a consistency across the state. The key to this consistency was to engage community-based partners more effectively and to engage in data collection and progress monitoring not just within the CDCR, but with all of their community-based service providers.
CDCR began utilizing a continuum-based approach in its workplace reentry programs, which was groundbreaking. Rather than a “one size fits all” approach, CDCR started looking at what worked best for individuals and how to give their community partners voice in the state’s decisions.
CDCR decided to bring in Social Solutions Efforts to Outcomes (ETO) software to measure the outcomes and processes for their reentry workforce development programs. Having an outcome and performance management platform allowed CDCR to create reporting templates and processes to standardize and organize service delivery across all providers. This lead to consistency and helped reveal what was working and what wasn’t. By reinforcing program fidelity and streamlining service delivery, CDCR was able to examine the inner workings of their reentry workforce development program and to retool them to be most effective.
Other reentry workforce development programs, such as the nationally lauded Operation New Hope, have used ETO software to achieve positive results and to create programs that are not only successful but replicable. Do ETO or Apricot software sound like the solution you need for your workforce reentry programming? Take this quiz to help determine which Social Solutions product can help your program achieve better results or contact one of our Solutions Specialists to find out how our software can make a positive impact at your agency and the clients you serve.