SOAR and Reentry
By Dazara Ware
June 21, 2018
Returning to the community from jail or prison is a transition often met with fear. Upon reentering society, newly released citizens may struggle with substance use disorders, lack of adequate education, insufficient job skills, and inadequate housing options. People with serious mental illness return to communities with symptoms that may be exasperated by the stress of being incarcerated, fears associated with returning to old neighborhoods, and angst surrounding the expectation to overcome barriers by sheer will and determination to succeed. Many individuals fall short of the goal of post-release success and the likelihood of experiencing homelessness is heightened.
Success for people with serious mental illness , substance use disorders, or a physical condition often depends on effective pre-release plans to promote successful reentry. SOAR can be used as the link to address these challenges. The financial benefit and the healthcare associated with Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can help to reduce delays in access to medications, treatment, and housing opportunities, and support the basic needs of previously incarcerated individuals. With SOAR, post-release success is attainable.
The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center continues to promote the SOAR model as a tool to assist in reentry and diversion planning. The SOAR TA Center is working closely with the recipients of the 2018 SOAR TA Center Criminal Justice Technical Assistance awardees to plan for SOAR implementation in their justice systems. Recipients of the TA award include:
- Delaware Department of Corrections
- Mississippi Department of Corrections
- Directions for Living, Pinellas County, Florida
- Newark Community Solutions Newark, New Jersey
- New Hour for Women and Children, Long Island, New York
- Martin Girls Academy, Stuart, Florida
Implementation meetings for each agency will be held between May 10 and June 10, 2018. The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center will facilitate a full-day, on-site meeting with key stakeholders and agency leads to review the existing challenges and assess the resources of the participating stakeholders to overcome those barriers. Although challenges must be recognized in order to address them, the meeting is resolution based and committed to establishing a plan to complete SOAR applications for eligible individuals.
These agencies are making strong efforts to provide individuals with the tools they need for post-release success by including access to benefits in pre-release plans or as a part of diversion support. It is a privilege to work with agencies that recognize how benefit access can contribute to reentry success.
The views, opinions, and content expressed in SOAR Voices do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors.