CSG Justice Center surveys Reentry Providers on adapting to the pandemic

Pandemic required reentry programs to adapt

A recent blog post by the Council of State Governments Justice Center’s highlights how community-based reentry service providers like GEO Reentry Services adapted their operations during the pandemic, while also examining how those organizations are faring today.

The blog, titled “Reentry in the Wake of COVID-19: Service Providers Adapt but Need More Support to Address Community Needs,” analyzes the results of the center’s June 2021 survey of 169 community-based organizations providing reentry services across the country. The survey captures how modifying or suspending their protocols and programming during the pandemic helped these organizations continue to provide reentry services while also keeping staff and participants safe.

Greater technology use was the most common way providers adapted service delivery, the survey found, and most reported they would try to sustain this increased use of technology such as videoconferencing for meetings and programs beyond the pandemic. Many reported incorporating technology in ways they had not before, including for client check-ins, intakes and referrals, and several shared that their staff trainings were also conducted remotely.

At GEO Reentry Services, the residential and non-residential reentry programs for probationers and parolees were among those reentry service providers that adapted their service delivery for program participants through creative scheduling, social distancing protocols, virtual options for classes, sessions and groups, and more.

For example, staff at the Monterey County Day Reporting Center provided participants with daily check-ins; group meetings through videoconferencing; treatment plan work and substance abuse services over the telephone; and one-on-one phone meetings with participants’ assigned case managers. Further east, Fresno County Day Reporting Center staff made daily check-in phone calls to continue holding participants accountable and delivered treatment services via one-on-one calls, group teleconferences and online-based platforms.

During the pandemic, GEO Reentry staff also developed additional, new programs to help participants access essential services. For example, Harvey Day Reporting Center distributed personal care packages to participants, while the Napa County Community Service Center gathered donations for an on-site “clothing closet” and food pantry. Some centers also developed new evidence-based programs, including one Louisiana DRC that launched two new tutoring initiatives.

In addition, due to social distancing restrictions, many GEO Reentry centers also hosted drive-through transition ceremonies instead of in-person graduations to make sure participants were recognized for completing the program.

Learn more about GEO Reentry programming here.

The CSG survey also found that, a year later, some organizations are struggling to provide for the changing needs of program participants. While some reported their operations are now fully up and running again, many also reported being only partially operating at pre-pandemic levels, and some have stopped operations altogether.

In addition, almost three-quarters reported they are seeing a greater need for support than before the pandemic and are concerned about their ability to provide it. The highest need, at 83 percent of reentry service providers, was for identifying new funding resources, suggesting that these providers require additional guidance to access state and local government funding available through the American Rescue Plan.

Visit the CSG Justice Center website to read the blog.