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, a vulnerable time for many. Caseworkers work tenaciously to encourage, guide, and celebrate the small steps of achievement each client makes along the way.
The process begins with an initial intake, 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 personal supports, housing assistance, transportation needs, mental and physical health, benefit eligibility, etc. 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 are experiencing impediments to employment. These barriers include homelessness, lack of work history, physical and mental health problems, and substance abuse, among many others. Some have been away from the community for long periods of time performing military service or in prison. Many have family concerns resulting from their 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 these issues, so they are freer to concentrate on making change.
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
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 collaboration with the Suffolk County House of Correction. Working inside the facility, we deliver early stages of programming and case management in the form of pre-release services to address the difficulties in making the transition back to the community. Case managers work with women to establish education and career goals and help them with family relations that have been strained since the women’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.
POWR (Partnerships to Opportunities for Women in Re-entry (POWR)
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 at least two years post-program completion.
The Boston Career Pathway Collaborative (BCPC)
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 viable career pathway. BCPC presents a strategic way of maximizing resources and linking key players to provide comprehensive services. Working through 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 program model was developed by working closely with local employers.
4. Basic Career Services
Available immediately and continuing for two years following graduation, we offer Career Tracks, a career services program centered around job search assistance, advancement and retention. The Career Coordinator works with local employers and businesses to keep clients informed of new opportunities in the area, to help make revisions in the program curriculum for relevancy purposes, and to give hiring preference to our graduates. In conjunction, instructors and caseworkers help clients learn to communicate effectively in the job setting. They stress the importance of being a dependable worker and supply information about other factors that lead to advancement, beyond entry-level positions.
With the installation of our state-of-the-art computer lab, graciously provided by the Timothy Smith Network and the recent addition of our laptops and SMARTboard, provided by the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation, clients train on up-to-date hardware and software that mirrors what they would find in a well-equipped workplace. The lab provides an excellent, business-like setting for clients to set up a professional email, work on their resumes and apply for jobs, while also serving as an informal meeting place where clients share information and news about jobs and housing progress and opportunities.
5. Alumni Services
Once clients have successfully completed the program and are working, they are retain access to our wealth of resources and 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.