Community Partners in Action (CPA) opened the Hartford Reentry Welcome Center (GH-RWC) in 2018 as a three-year pilot project funded by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. The Reentry Welcome Center is a place specifically designed to help people returning home from prison. The Center provides information, referrals, and services related to basic needs, housing, substance misuse, mental health, medical care, employment, identification acquisition, and more.
As part of the project, the Foundation commissioned a series of yearly evaluations of the Center to 1) identify what is and is not working well, 2) provide strategic recommendations for the program model, and 3) leverage emergent promising practices in reentry services.
The year two evaluation study conducted by Diamond Research Consulting identified multiple areas of success, suggested opportunities for improvement, and highlighted the unique challenges faced by the Hartford Welcome Center due to the unexpected and unprecedented COVID pandemic.
During the height of the pandemic, CPA’s GH-RWC Program Manager triaged calls remotely, responding to requests for assistance, providing support/guidance, making referrals, and connecting people to a GH-RWC case manager and CPA programs.”
The pandemic also created additional challenges including heightened food insecurity for program participants, the closing of shelters leading to limited housing options, and reduced job opportunities for people after leaving prison.
Among the key strengths of the Hartford Reentry Welcome Center identified in the report were:
-The strengthening of partnerships with CT Department of Correction, Court Support Services Division, and community service providers for ensured care continuity and provided housing assistance and addiction recovery supports.
-Direct transport of people discharging from prison to the GH-RWC on the day of release.
-Provision of cell phones with pre-paid minutes to people upon their release from prison or jail.
-High satisfaction level of the GH-RWC participants who took part in focus groups as part of the evaluation.
-New partnership with the Hartford Data Collaborative to facilitate data integration across key referral partners.
The report also identified multiple challenges including difficulties in obtaining feedback from participants, procuring identification for participants prior to their prison release, and challenges with maintaining contact with participants to provide ongoing case management.
Among the key recommendations to address these and other challenges were to increase access to rapid rehousing vouchers through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to improve the referral process with community partners, to conduct in-reach at least two times prior to a person’s release.
Read the full Year 2 Report and see a complete list of its findings, recommendations, and descriptions of its methodology here.
For more information, contact Sandra Bradford-Jennings, Development Director.