“This issue brief [is part of a] series [that] explores lessons from the evaluation of the Employment and Training Administration’s Linking to Employment Activities Prerelease (LEAP) grants….LEAP pilots the creation of jail-based American Job Centers (AJCs) to support the successful reentry of participants and directly link them to community-based AJCs upon release. The evaluation looks at approaches to providing services before and after incarceration across 20 sites based on site visits, phone interviews, focus groups, and grantee performance reports” (p.1).
“The LEAP grants sought to create a stronger linkage between pre- and post-release employment services for justice-involved individuals. Case management—coordinating services for and working directly with clients—is an important aspect of that linkage….This brief explores the different models used to deliver case management through jail-based AJCs and community-based AJCs and service providers, the benefits and drawbacks of those models, and strategies used to help establish continuity of services after release” (p.1).
“To determine who would provide case management before and after release, the sites used one of three primary configurations:
- Jail-based staff serve participants both before and after release from jail” (p.2).
- “Participants transition from jail-based staff to community-based staff” (p.2).
- “A mix of jail-based and community-based staff provide services after release” (p.2).
“Participants receiving services through the jail-based AJCs worked with case managers both in the jail and for up to one year after release….
- On average, participants in jail-based AJCs met with a case manager every one to two weeks to receive individualized support and guidance….Most sites provided other employment- and training-related services in group formats in addition to one-on-one counseling” (p.1).
- “After release, participants in most sites met with case managers every one to two weeks until they secured employment or enrolled in an educational program….Community-based staff facilitated or referred participants to various career services, including job search, job placement, and occupational training. They also helped participants enroll in education, find housing and transportation, and obtain identification cards and other right-to-work documentation” (p.1).
Major Findings & Recommendations
“Grantees chose a case management model based on their available resources, jail and community partners, and the capacity of contracted service providers. Each of the three models outlined above were reported to have limitations and benefits” (p.2). • “Relying on the same staff to provide both jail-based and community-based services…eliminated the challenging handoff process from before to after release” (p.2). Jail-based AJC staff had the opportunity to build trust with participants by “familiarizing themselves with participants’ personalities, needs, and barriers” (p.2). However, sites also relayed some challenges with this model. Staff “had to coordinate schedules with three distinct populations: (1) participants in jail without an imminent release date, (2) those nearing release, and (3) those who had been released” (p.3). • “The case management model of using separate jail-based and community-based staff had different benefits and challenges. Participants who were transitioned to community-based staff encountered a team dedicated to serving only released participants, and sites were able to hire staff with more specialized skills for each role” (p.3). However, sites with this model found it challenging to build a relationship with participants once they were released and transitioned to a new staff member. • “Sites using the third model, with a mix of staff serving participants after release, experienced some of the benefits outlined” (p.3). in the other two models, “such as leveraging trust between staff and participants built in jails, but also faced the challenge of balancing caseloads” (p.3). “Sites’ efforts to create strong case management models that would help align jail-based and community-based services generated the following promising strategies: • Introduce community-based staff to participants before release. A majority of the sites where participants worked with different case managers before and after release created opportunities for community-based staff to meet or get to know participants before release” (p.3). • “Facilitate regular staff collaboration to increase communication about participants’ needs and progress….To increase the alignment of services, a few sites had weekly or monthly staff meetings…to discuss participants’ progress and needs” (p.4). • “Use a common Management Information System (MIS) to improve the transfer of information between jail-based AJC and community-based staff. Sites that had one MIS accessible in real-time…reported having better access to information about participants and the services and support they needed upon release” (p.4). (Abstractor: Author)