|Centerstone's Project HOPE celebrates two years of helping ex-offenders|
Bloomington, Indiana – Centerstone’s Project Helping Offenders through Partnership and Employment (HOPE) is marking its two-year anniversary and celebrating significant success in combatting recidivism among ex-offenders in Indiana. The program has helped hundreds of formerly incarcerated men and women in the Bloomington area successfully reintegrate into their communities, identify and begin a career path, advance their education and achieve a certificate or degree, and secure and retain employment.
“Data shows that more than one-third of ex-offenders in Indiana are rearrested and returned to jail or a state correctional facility within three years of their release,” said Jennifer Fillmore, director of Project HOPE. “Project HOPE has been able to break this chronic cycle of recidivism by giving people the support they need to secure employment and housing and get access to the care and services that can help them lead healthy and productive lives beyond prison. This offers tremendous benefit not only to the families directly impacted, but the communities in which these men and women live.”
Established in 2012 through a grant from the US Department of Labor, Project HOPE was created to reduce recidivism by helping individuals overcome challenges commonly faced upon release from incarceration and successfully return to their communities. Out of the 416 men and women who have participated in the project, 61 percent gained employment, 70 percent have retained that employment, and 35 percent have obtained a credential of degree necessary for securing a better position of employment in the future.
Project HOPE serves those who are chronically homeless and unemployed, have unstable housing, actively abuse drugs and alcohol, are in-and-out of the corrections system, possess limited education, or have a limited work history. It has offered a range of services and supports including employment and housing assistance, mental health and substance abuse treatment, transportation, medical services, child care assistance, and leadership training.
Participants have to meet strict guidelines in order to qualify for Project HOPE. Individuals must reside in Monroe County, be 18-or-older, have been recently release from jail or the Indiana Department of Correction in the previous 180 days, be eligible for employment and pass a drug screening. Upon enrollment, they are required at minimum to attend employment rehabilitation sessions, take a work-readiness assessment and actively work with an employment specialist or recovery coach.
Federal funding for Project HOPE expires at the end of 2014, but Centerstone has committed to integrating the services currently offered through the program into all teams within the organization.
“The success of this project underscores how important effectively supporting those who have been incarcerated can be,” added Fillmore. “This is why Centerstone is finding ways to continue the program beyond the grant we received and integrating similar services throughout the state.”
Centerstone, a not-for-profit organization, has provided a wide range of mental health, substance use disorder, and integrated health services to Indiana residents for more than 50 years. Through more than 60 facilities in 17 Indiana counties, Centerstone serves more than 24,000 children, adolescents, adults and seniors each year. It is accredited by CARF International.
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