1. Case Management and Wraparound Services
Having a one-on-one relationship with a caseworker means that each client’s needs are considered and adjusted on an ongoing basis. Clients thrive with a dedicated staff member to work alongside as they navigate new territory and make agreements that promise to bring success. Caseworkers enjoy the satisfaction of getting to know clients well over the course of the program. They work tenaciously to encourage, guide, and celebrate the small steps of achievement along the way.
At the initial intake, the process begins, including a needs assessment to determine the client’s levels of competencies and deficits. The case manager works with the education staff to coordinate the classroom experience for an individualized program of work readiness and life skills, and concurrently with internal and external resources to find appropriate housing. Some clients need to work on family issues; such as when a woman in a shelter needs to find appropriate childcare that would make it possible for her to attend classes. Case managers assist those newly released from incarceration in understanding the terms and adhering to the requirements of parole.
Project Place clients have experienced impediments to working. These barriers include homelessness, lack of employment, physical and mental health problems, and substance abuse. Some have been away from the community for long periods of time performing military service or in prison. Many have family concerns resulting from the experience of domestic violence or being separated from a child or children. We are equipped to refer clients to services that aid them in resolving personal issues, so they are freer to concentrate on their education program.
2. Veterans Services
Returning armed service veterans have particular needs when they are discharged from military service. After combat duty especially, the adjustment to civilian life can be difficult. Lives have been interrupted resulting in family shifts, interruption of employment, and the need to reengage in daily life. Project Place has dedicated Veterans Services staff to address these problems. Returning vets need support beyond the usual case management, and they get it here. These case manager assist with working with the Veterans Administration system to ascertain each veteran’s eligibility for benefits and other administrative details, and to connect them with veteran-friendly businesses.
3. Reentry Services
a. Community Reentry for Women (CREW)
Women returning from prison require targeted services. Project Place created the award-winning Community Reentry for Women (CREW) program in conjunction with the Suffolk County House of Corrections. Pre-release services address the difficulties in making the transition back to the community beginning with the Work Ready program. Case managers work with these women to establish education and career goals and help them with family relations that have been strained since a woman’s absence. Also, while enrolled in the Work Ready program, the client and caseworker focus on finding safe and stable housing for them and their children
b. POWR (Partnerships to Opportunities for Women in Re-entry (POWR) is another partnership with the Suffolk County House of Correction along with multiple local agencies. POWR allows female ex-offenders a chance to engage in training and job skills while being mentored. The POWR approach is based on creating a multi-service treatment resource focused on each client’s self-development. The goal is to reduce recidivism and unemployment by empowering men and women to succeed personally and by gaining work- related skills.
The highly experienced POWR Team—the project director, mental health counselors, case managers, mentors and employment specialists—meet weekly to monitor each client’s progress, adjusting the Individual Career Plans as needed. To ensure success, a comprehensive support system is in place to deal with issues of substance abuse, physical and mental health, family reunification, and past trauma, which have been in the way of successful reintegration. The team follows clients for two years post program completion.
c. The Boston Career Pathway Collaborative (BCPC), is a seamless system of training, case management, mentoring, credentialing, education support, job placement, and follow-up services geared to the needs of men and women returning from incarceration. Participants identify their individual strengths and weaknesses as they design a clear career pathway. BCPC presents a strategic way of maximizing resources and linking key players to provide comprehensive services. Partnering with the Suffolk County House of Correction, the reentry program helps men and women participating in state or local work-release programs to gain job skills and experience necessary to succeed in growth occupations upon release. The House of Corrections worked closely with local employers in the design phase of the program.
4. Basic Career Services
Available immediately and continuing for two years following graduation, we offer Career Services around job search and job retention. Instructors and caseworkers help with communicating on the job. They stress the importance of being a dependable worker and supply information about other factors that lead to advancement.
With the recent installation of our state-of-the-art computer lab, graciously provided by the Timothy Smith Network, clients train on up-to-date hardware and software such as they would find in a well-equipped workplace. The lab provides an excellent, business-like setting for clients working on their resumes and applying for jobs, while also serving as an informal meeting place where clients share information about jobs and housing.
5. Alumni Services
Once clients have successfully completed the program and are working, they are entitled to post participation services for at least two years. This ensures that clients continue along a rewarding path, which might not be easy without the community structure. Staff supports include vocational assessments, resume review, and counseling about educational and personal issues. Project Place conducts enhanced career and skills workshops for alumni along with access to the computer lab. Caseworkers aid them with resources and referrals as needed.
6. Financial Assistance
Project Place clients come from impoverished backgrounds. They can find themselves without basic resources at a time when they need to make purchases to help them continue their education and enter the work world. Several small financial assistance programs have been set up to help clients in small, but important ways with loans and grants for rent, tuition, clothing, or certification fees. Some resources are outright grants, and others require repayment.