Working Together for Women (WTW) is a behavioral health and substance abuse prevention service specifically for women who are being released from incarceration or other institutional settings in the Philadelphia community. A cooperative undertaking of Mothers in Charge and Caring Together, this trauma-informed program responds to the treatment needs of women facing the challenges of reentry into the community. Funded by the Office of Addiction Services/Department of Behavioral Health, the WTW program is designed to assist women in their critical transition from prison. This unique program brings together the clinical expertise of Caring Together, a female-specific addiction and mental health treatment program, with the cognitive skills training, case management and peer support provided by Mothers In Charge. Recent research studies as well as the experience of the two collaborative partners indicate that women in the targeted population have a high frequency of substance abuse/dependence, mental health challenges, undiagnosed and untreated trauma, domestic violence, and disconnection from their children and other family members, and/or loss of family members or friends to violence. The WTW program assesses the mental health status of these women prior to their release in order to continue their engagement with behavioral health services after their reentry.
Mothers in Charge (MIC) and Caring Together (CT) have worked together to develop Working Together for Women program, an innovative behavioral health intervention program targeted women in prison, pre and post release for unprecedented collaboration and funding of a clinical government-funded with a grassroots/community based agency usually not eligible for behavioral health funding. In 2013, Mothers In Charge initiated the conversation when it provided a concept paper to Dr. Arthur Evans, Commissioner, Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health Intellectual DisAbilities Services (DBHIDS) for behavioral health supports for women returning from incarceration. Mothers In Charge (MIC) was connected with Caring Together (CT) treatment program to create a program providing pre-release and post-release service clinical/therapeutic, case management, peer support, and in-home services. The joint efforts resulted in an integrated reintegration program that includes a mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment umbrella program that includes both clinical and community networking systems.
.The Department of Behavioral Health has connected WTW to key agencies for identifying women and expanding service model. Key local agencies in which WTW has presented its model to executive and staff include the following:
· Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women
· Achieving Reunification Program (ARC) is a "one-stop" center providing services to help parents with children in placement overcome barriers toward family reunification.
· Women In Transition (WIT) provides empowerment counseling, referrals and advocacy to women who are endangered by domestic violence and/or substance abuse.
· MOMobile Program serves pregnant women, new parents, and their families to provide them critical support, education, and access to community resources.
· Philadelphia Community Umbrella Agencies (CUA) develop connections to formal and informal neighborhood networks that can strengthen and stabilize families.
.We plan to make presentations and publish articles regarding its development and its strategies. Sustainability is built into our plan, through the "pooling" of resources and through the use of Medicaid funding. Program staff will seek out additional funding especially for program elements that do not qualify for Medicaid. Potential funding sources include federal agencies and foundations that support programs for women with mental health and substance abuse disorders, and who face reentry challenges. These include but are not limited to the following: federal government (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, National Institutes of Health, National Institutes of Justice), state and local government (Department of Correction, Department of Human Services), and such foundations as Pew, Robert Wood Johnson, Kellogg Foundation, and the Kresge Foundations.
The menu of services are broad and are usually offered through single-service models that involve Medicaid-funded agencies only. Our WTW program is the first such model in the Philadelphia in which alternative funding has been provided to support the community-based interventions that cannot be covered by Medicaid. An evaluation team, recruited from the Drexel University School of Public Health, will support the collection of performance measures – data highlighting inputs, outputs, and outcomes, participant demographics, participation levels, recovery status, and recidivism rates. The qualitative component of the program is grounded in the meanings and understandings of the women’s experiences before, during, and after their participation in WTW. The evaluation can justify the WTW Model for replication to serve more women across the city, submission of the model to Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration for consideration for adoption as an evidences-based model, and submission to non-government funding sources.
The WTW program has created an integrated system of site, community and homebound services to meet the unique needs of reentry women to promote recovery, reducing recidivism, and supporting family reunification. Objectives and anticipated outcomes are as follows:
1. Increase the number of women receiving sustained case management, addiction and psychiatric treatment and support services as measured by the WTW enrollment, program attendance, services received, and community resources used by 50%
2. Decrease recidivism by 60% as measured by re-arrest rates
3. Increase substance abuse recovery as measured by 50% reduction in relapse rates
4. Increase positive family reunification and prevention/reduction of child abuse/neglect as measured by 60-70% of women regaining custody of their children.
5. Improve health status of women and their children measured by prevention of and management of co-existing diseases (i.e. diabetes, hypertension, asthma, STD’s/HIV, hepatitis B and C, asthma, and pediatric substance use).