Grantee submission by: Liz Ratchford, Director of Community Outreach and Resource Development
How did the funding or non-monetary support you received from the Foundation impact your organization and/or the community?
Outreach received grant funding for the project: Supporting Health and Self-Sufficiency for Justice-Involved Juveniles through Outreach in 2022. This funding has allowed Outreach to address an increasing need for services for justice-involved young adults. Outreach with funding support from the Moses Taylor Foundation is providing education, parenting skills, substance abuse disorder recovery, mental health, and workforce services to young adults ages 14 – 21. The goal of these services is successful community reentry. Outreach case managers provide customized reentry plans for each individual and identify additional community services these juveniles need to achieve a crime-free lifestyle, gain positive parenting skills, achieve long-term recovery from SUD, mental health treatment, family stability, and economic self-sufficiency.
Security regulations at the Lackawanna County Prison (LCP) stipulate that minors may not be in the presence of adult prisoners. Most of their residency at the prison is spent in solitary confinement. Hallways must be void of all adults for the juveniles to travel to the windows for Outreach staff to complete assessments, mental health support, recovery services, case management, and to discuss available services with a case manager. Numerous research studies have determined that housing teens in adult prison facilities severely impacts their social, emotional, and physical development. Outreach encourages these young adults to continue services at Outreach upon their release to provide the support needed for successful community reentry.
In 2022, Outreach served 51 juveniles who were incarcerated at the Lackawanna County Prison. Outreach provided assessments and educational packets to the juveniles during their incarceration, and services continued at the Outreach Center in Scranton upon their release. Outreach provided supportive services, educational, soft skills, parenting, and workforce services. Outreach also provided comprehensive case management, and all juveniles received aftercare during reentry into the community. All juveniles served (100%) were enrolled in educational programming. Eight juveniles graduated high school, with two students enrolling at Lackawanna College and one at Johnson College. Three juveniles obtained their GED, and 23 achieved employment. All other juveniles remain committed to developing concrete educational goals. None of the juveniles dropped out of school.
Share a quote or anecdotal story from a client or employee of your organization that illustrates the impact of your work.
To protect the confidentiality of the participant – name/identifying information withheld
T.M., a justice-involved young adult, referred by the courts, came to Outreach seeking support. After a customized needs assessment with his case manager, T.M. enrolled in GED services in hopes of attaining a GED credential. T.M. was not sure he would be successful as he had negative experiences with school. T.M. began individual tutoring, case management, and supportive services from his case manager, Cyrus Kizer.T.M. recently passed the GED exam in Math. This success has opened the door for T.M. to dream of enrolling in post-secondary education this fall.
T.M. shared this story:
“I always felt my teachers hated me. I hated school. I struggled and never felt like I belonged. I have been coming to GED classes at Outreach since September 2022. When I started, I had no confidence, was stubborn and not easy to deal with. I met with my teacher a few times to figure out a plan for action. We decided to start with the math portion of the exam. I couldn’t even make change for a dollar! It was awful. Through all my struggles, my teacher never gave up on me, and took the time to teach me all the skills I would need to pass the exam. I passed the math exam on March 20th and have moved on to the science section. My teacher is always there for me. He is a really good guy who has taught me not to give up on myself or my dreams. My goal is to enroll at Johnson College this August. Because of the help and support I get at Outreach, I truly believe I will do this!”
What do you most want the community to know about your work and/or what excites you most about the future of your organization?
Outreach has 35 years of experience providing services and programs that assist individuals and families experiencing adverse life events. Outreach serves a diverse population, with most participants experiencing economic hardships.
Outreach is looking to establish a dedicated space at our Center on 7th Avenue in the city of Scranton to provide services for justice-involved young adults. This new Young Adult Center will be centrally located, and the services will be made available at no cost to these young adults.
Outreach seeks to expand the services for this at-risk population by providing a network of support, education, guidance, and a reason to believe they can forge a new path of success free of the justice system. Having a separate, safe space for the participating justice-involved young adults is critical for their success in the program. The Young Adult Center will be a new addition to the Seventh Avenue Center, allowing Outreach to expand this program and provide justice-involved young adults with a supportive environment where each participant can establish and pursue their goals.
This dedicated Young Adult Center will allow these justice-involved young adults to further their education to attain the skills necessary for family stability and economic self-sufficiency in a safe, conducive space to success. The program will allow participants to achieve healthy lifestyles, stable mental health, long-term recovery, obtain employment, or continue their education at post-secondary providers.
Outreach’s vision and purpose is to ensure everyone has a chance to succeed in life, no matter their circumstance or background. Outreach will continue to address the critical need to provide innovative services and programs to address the needs these young adults are facing.