2019 Conference takes a collaborative, strengths-based approach to Reentry in L.A. County
What is Reentry? Each year, more than 700,000 people are released from State and Federal prison, while another 9 million cycle through local jails. Given what we know about the health burdens of incarcerated individuals – including high rates of chronic illness and disease, substance abuse, and mental health issues – reentry is a critical time for engaging people and communities to support access to much needed services.
On May 30th, 211 LA leadership and staff attended the “Shaking Up Reentry” conference hosted by the LA County Probation Department with support from the Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership (LARRP). Nearly 1,000 community stakeholders gathered to discuss best practices and gaps in services for the reentry population in Los Angeles, with a strong emphasis on the need to create collaborative partnerships between government and community-based organizations.
Insights Gained from the Shaking Up ReEntry conference:
1. Successful reentry requires community collaboration.
Addressing the obstacles and needs of the reentry population does not just fall on the County’s Probation department. The County of LA is committed to collaboration and cooperation between all county departments and developing new partnerships with community-based organizations to provide holistic support to the reentry population. Likewise, 211 LA, in collaboration with LARRP and LARRP members are exploring joint efforts to strengthen community-based safety net services including improving the quality of referral resources available throughout the county and coordinating our referral and client connection processes.
2. Employing a trauma-informed approach is paramount.
It is important that organizations and service providers working with the reentry population not only be culturally competent, but also trauma-informed. This knowledge-base allows service providers to better engage and build rapport with clients. 211 LA staff will be trained in trauma-informed and social determinants of health best practices as this relates to serving the reentry population through information and referral services.
3. Hire individuals with lived experiences.
While recent years have changed the job-market for individuals in the reentry population, there are still challenges for individuals with specific charges to find employment. 211 LA is committed to working with our LARRP partners to employ individuals with lived experienced at 211 because these are jobs that allow people to give back to community while providing a living wage and there is significant evidence showing the efficacy of peer-based services.
4. Strength-based approach- Building on the reentry population’s resilience and innovation.
Due to the significant barriers to services and opportunities experienced by people in the reentry population, many have developed their own organizations and found creative methods to fill the gaps in services for their peers. These skills, among many others, provide further argument for the fair hiring practices mentioned above. As a new member of LARRP, 211 staff are joining the housing and employment committees to stay abreast of service innovations, augmented resources and to coordinate with providers so that 211 is providing the best and most appropriate referrals.
5. Diversity of reentry population requires gender and cultural sensitivity.
While there are higher incidents of incarceration for men, this has led to slower development of services specific to women and people who are queer in the reentry population. LARRP is working to identify the cultural competence and other service details necessary to update and enhance their current reentry resource directory (available digitally through the 211LA.org website). This will add huge value to the referral process by improving the ability to match a client’s needs with the most appropriate service referrals near them.
211 LA has developed a Reentry Resources portal with a variety of resources frequently needed by the reentry population. Anyone needing resources, or service providers seeking resources for their clients, can also dial 2-1-1 or livechat online for professionally trained assistance finding resources.
by Ana Hollander, June 17, 2019