Helping recently incarcerated transition to society

Federal grant program focuses on ensuring critical social services for young people

The St. Louis Integrated Health Network, in partnership with the City of St. Louis and two Washington University in St. Louis initiatives of the Brown School — the Evaluation Center and the Center for Social Development’s Smart Decarceration Initiative — has received a $1.8 million RE-LINK grant from the U.S. Department of Human Services Office of Minority Health to assist 18-26-year-olds who recently have been released from St. Louis’ city jail.

The grant will help these individuals connect with a collaborative, community-based network of support services that promotes personal and community health.

Pettus-Davis
Pettus-Davis

“Health and services needs of individuals releasing from jails are extremely complex,” said Carrie Pettus-Davis, assistant professor at the Brown School and co-director of the Smart Decarceration Initiative. “Coordination of care that can be achieved through this initiative is unprecedented, yet incredibly warranted.”

The proposed RE-LINK project will take place at three levels over the five years of the grant:  the individual level, the systems level and the environmental and community level.

Community health workers will navigate people releasing from jail through the health and social service system. The initiative will focus on creating a broader and more cohesive network of health and social service providers called the Health and Social Service Network (HSSN).

The HSSN will convene regularly to improve communication and coordination across siloed sectors serving the targeted population once they are released from jails. HSSN will work to demonstrate and address systemic barriers that prevent successful re-entry to the community.

The Brown School’s Evaluation Center and Smart Decarceration Initiative will serve as research team for the project, and will be responsible for the systems-level evaluation of HSSN as well as individual-level outcomes.

“The Brown School team’s expertise in evaluation and with criminal justice-involved populations will allow the initiative to monitor whether the HSSN is achieving its intended outcomes of helping individuals be successful in returning to their families and neighborhoods.” said Nancy Mueller, director of the Evaluation Center.

The St. Louis Integrated Health Network is a local, public service organization that collaborates with the City of St. Louis Health Department, local hospitals, community health centers, and other safety-net institutions to increase access to high-quality, affordable health care for all St. Louis area residents, especially the medically underserved.

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