Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $274,245)
The Second Chance Act of 2007 (Pub. L. 110-199) provides a comprehensive response to the increasing number of people who are released from prison and jail and returning to communities. There are currently over 2.3 million individuals serving time in federal and state prisons, and millions of people cycling through local jails every year. Ninety-five percent of all prisoners incarcerated today will eventually be released and will return to communities. The Second Chance Act will help ensure the transition individuals make from prison or jail to the community is safe and successful. Section 211 of the Act authorizes grants to nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Indian tribes that may be used for mentoring projects to promote the safe and successful reintegration into the community of individuals who have been incarcerated.
The Second Chance Act grant programs are designed to strengthen jurisdictions characterized by large numbers of returning offenders. 'Reentry' is not envisioned to be a specific program but rather an evidence-based process that begins with initial incarceration and ends with successful community reintegration, indicated by lack of recidivism. Per the Second Chance Act, funded mentoring projects should use validated and dynamic assessment tools to determine the risks and needs of offenders included in the project's target population. Program components must include mentoring adult offenders during incarceration, through transition back to the community, and post-release; transitional services to assist in the reintegration of offenders into the community; and training regarding offender and victims issues. Applicant agencies/organizations are expected to demonstrate their capability to deliver or broker the provision of transitional services proposed to be offered in conjunction with the core mentoring component. Examples of 'transitional services' designed to increase success in reentry and thus reduce recidivism might include the establishment of a pre-release mentoring relationship, housing, education, substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, services to enhance family reunification, job training and readiness, and post-release case management.
The Volunteers of America (VOA) Texas, Inc., will use the FY 2009 Second Chance Act Mentoring Grants to Nonprofit Organizations funds for the Mentoring Program for Incarcerated Mothers project. The goal of the program is to provide high quality one-on-one mentoring to incarcerated parents. Carefully screened and trained mentors will provide 8-10 hours of one-on-one mentoring per month, for a period of up to one year (six months pre-release through six months post-release). Throughout the program's duration, participants will also have access to a broad range of reentry services including employment and training services, mental health counseling, substance abuse programming, housing assistance, and pastoral care. In addition, eligible participants, their children, and their children's caregivers will have access to coordinated family-based case management services and programming through the new VOA 'Families of Promise' initiative. One defining element will be a one-on-one mentoring program designed to provide caring and responsible adult role models (or 'life coaches') to incarcerated parents. The proposed VOA Texas mentorship program will target incarcerated mothers of the Houston/Harris County, TX area who are housed in the Women Helping Ourselves-Atascocita (WHO-A) Program. Key features of the WHO-A Program will include: mentee and mentor recruitment; structured participant training; structured match procedures; self-guided, carefully supervised, one-on-one mentoring activities; supplementary group activities; access to reentry assistance and other supportive services; and regular communication, supervision, and monitoring of all stakeholders.