Having worked a range of temp jobs over the past several years, and being on supervised release for 25 years following his incarceration, it was difficult for Lars to find a good job. But with career development, job placement, and follow-up support from Rise Employment Consultant Cassie Anderson, Lars has been thriving in his job at a distribution center.
“When I started working with Rise, I was unemployed and living at a place for homeless men,” he remembers. “Now I rent my own place and have a job that I really like with full benefits and insurance, and a 401K account. I am caught up on my child support and can afford my therapy so I don’t have to go back to prison! Rise has really helped me.”
Lars was referred to Rise’s Partnership for Successful Re-Entry program in Region 7W (Central Minnesota) by his mental health therapist. The program works with ex-offenders who have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness. and is a collaboration between the Central MN Re-Entry Project and Rise. It’s completing another year of funding from the Otto Bremer Foundation.
From Rise St. Cloud, Re-Entry uses a person-centered approach that involves working one-to-one with each individual prior to release. The overall goal is to decrease a person’s odds of reoffending and returning to jail or prison and successfully acclimating people into the community to be productive, contributing members.
“We knew that one key component to people’s success is meaningful employment that pays a sustainable wage as well as safe secure housing near public transportation,” said Program Manager Maeta Burns-Penn.
“We also educate employers, landlords, and community members on the importance of offering individuals second chances, and the vital impact that has on the growth and safety of the community.”
During the program’s most recent year, Rise served 72 people, 47 of whom (or 65 percent) achieved competitive employment. Their average hourly was $13.27 (up $1.34 as compared to other similar programs in the state) and weekly worked an average of 30 hours.
In addition, 23 people secured safe, affordable housing with transitional living expenses; 37 percent of individuals received Rise housing supports or Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services. Helping keep the recidivism rate to 2.7 percent was the fact that 94 percent of individuals served were engaged in continuous therapeutic services with an outside agency.
Hank was referred to Re-Entry by his therapist and probation officer. He had experience working in manufacturing, but had a difficult time balancing his treatment obligations and work schedule.
After helping him find a job as a fiberglass fabricator this fall, Cassie continues to coordinate with Hank’s parole officer, therapist, and housing case manager to ensure that he receives the full benefit of ‘wrap-around’ services.
“I am thankful to have been given a chance to work with Rise,” said Hank. “Cassie goes above and beyond what anybody has ever done for me. It makes me feel good to be able to pay my own way by working hard. And the best part of it is that Cassie helped me find a job that I really like and everyone there treats me really good, especially my supervisor.”
“Historically, this population has been underserved due to the level of complexity of needs acknowledged by other providers in the region,” Cassie explained. “The success of this program is a direct result of the partnership and better coordination of services with the Central MN Re-Entry project, leading to greater success and retention rates. Rise is well-known for achieving high quality case management and successful transition services. “
Maeta added that Rise hopes to increase access to these services for former offenders by expanding our partnership with Minnesota Department of Corrections and Stearns County Corrections. “They have become members of the program’s steering committee and participate in regular interdisciplinary team meetings, allowing for improved communication and ultimately, more success..
“Rise continues to aggressively search on the local, state, and national level for additional funding to sustain this program.”
This article appears in the December 2019 issue of the Rise Reporter.