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City Adds Beds, Services for Homeless Youth

In response to a rapid increase in youth homelessness, Philadelphia announced Tuesday that it will dedicate $700,000 to pay for additional beds, job training, and employment and counseling support targeting people 18 to 24.

“We are here to tell our most vulnerable young people, our children, our youth, that they matter, that we care, that we are there for them,” said Councilwoman Helen Gym, who with Council colleagues and Mayor Kenney’s administration secured the new funding. “They won’t face their challenges alone. We’ll be standing up as a city with them.”

At last count, 527 unaccompanied young adults lived in emergency or transitional housing in the city, and a point-in-time count found 25 sleeping on the streets. Those who track youth homelessness say the number of young people with “unstable housing” is much higher, likely 4,000 to 6,000.

 In the last four years, the number of high school students in Philadelphia who have experienced homelessness has increased 73 percent. That works out to one of every 20 high school students in the city.

Last year, 252 young adults aged out of the foster care system, many without a permanent place to live.

The $700,000 contract will go toward 50 new beds, job training, and employment support for 75 homeless youth, and counseling and mentoring for 40 LGBTQ youth.

Most of the money comes out of the city’s general fund, with some additional dollars from the Office of Homeless Services’ budget.

Five private providers were contracted to expand services and shelter: the Attic Youth Center, Covenant House PA, Pathways PA, Valley Youth House, and Youth Service Inc.

Donald Jackson, 23, was kicked out of his home by his mother when he was 18.

Jackson couch-surfed for a few months before landing at Covenant House, a shelter for young adults. He was lucky. The shelter turns away more than 500 people each year because of lack of space.

Jackson worked two jobs to get himself back on his feet.

Now he has his own apartment and works at Action Wellness, a nonprofit helping people living with chronic illness.

“Not everyone is fortunate enough to handle responsibilities, bills, the things an 18-year-old, a 21-year-old even, usually has people to help them deal with,” Jackson said. “It’s so important to provide that underlying support. At 18 you’re trying to figure out your life, and then even at 21 – who’s responsible at 21?”

Leaving Philly Jail With Mental Illness, Five Days’ Medication – and Now, a Fighting Chance

by Samantha Melamed, Staff Writer @samanthamelamed

It’s been four weeks since Shatara Gillette was released from a Philadelphia jail with five days’ medication for her bipolar disorder. Her medical assistance still hasn’t been activated, so it’s been more than 20 days since she last took her medication.

That has Gillette, 27, worried.

“I feel OK for right now,” she said, after a group meeting in August at Why Not Prosper, a residential program in Germantown for women leaving prison. She was sent there after 10 months in jail on a drug charge that’s still pending; she’s also facing charges from 2008 that have not been heard because she was repeatedly deemed incompetent to stand trial. “But I don’t want to go back to the bad behavior that happens when I’m not on my medication. I’m trying not to go back to that.”

 Prison administrators say it’s a familiar cycle among the 30,000 people released from Philadelphia jails each year with five days’ medication and no medical coverage. Getting benefits restored after incarceration can take weeks or even a few months – long enough for people to relapse.

“Most people are not on medications, and are destabilized when they come in,” said Bruce Herdman, chief of medical operations at the jails. “We do a pretty good job tuning them up. But up until now, it’s been so frustrating, because we help people get healthy, and we send people out and they don’t have the resources to maintain their health.”

That’s about to change though. A slew of new city- and state-level initiatives will preserve Medicaid benefits for people who have them, and sign up more of those who don’t – in particular, those leaving jail with serious mental illness and chronic disease. Together, advocates say, these efforts can decrease recidivism, save taxpayers money, and maybe even save lives.

 Right now, three-quarters of all men and women arriving at Philadelphia jails are on drugs. About 28 percent have hypertension, diabetes, or significant seizure disorder. About a thousand each year will be treated for HIV. Fourteen percent have serious mental illness, and 40 percent will require psychotropic medication; Herdman notes the prison system is effectively the state’s largest psychiatric hospital.But only about 8 percent, at last count, had health insurance – all of it Medicaid. Right now, that benefit is terminated in Pennsylvania when people are imprisoned; but, starting in November, it will instead be suspended for up to two years.

That’s important because applying for new coverage upon release takes time. “Eliminating the gap, that can be 45 or even 90 days, can make the difference in stabilizing people,” state Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas said.

It’s a fix more states are making. But it required a political and culture change – and, above all, technological upgrades.

“The biggest issue is you have these very large IT systems that determine eligibility, and getting changes to them, it’s not always an easy thing,” he said.

In the interim, a series of pilot programs at the Philadelphia Department of Prisons are focused on specific, high-need groups being released from jail.

One is targeting people with serious mental illness like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. They’re significantly more likely to be rearrested than other inmates, and they stay in jail an average of 25 days longer, according to the department’s statistics.

Through the pilot, people with serious mental illness can get Medicaid within two days of their release. And, they’re connected with a forensic peer specialist from the city Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services (DBHIDS) to help with everything from reconnecting with family to securing housing and benefits.

“If you’re not able to reconnect within the first 72 hours, it becomes more difficult,” said H. Jean Wright II, of DBHIDS. “This is a way of getting to a group of people who have historically fallen through the cracks.”

So far, he said, 45 people have gone through the program, with only four rearrests. Given that 38 percent of Philadelphia jail inmates are re-incarcerated within a year, that’s a remarkable success.

At the same time, Corizon, a contractor that provides health care in the jails, is running a separate pilot to connect people with chronic physical illnesses with Medicaid.

“These aren’t diseases that you cure, but you would reduce the number of times people get incarcerated,” Herdman said. “Say someone has a seizure disorder, and they are medicated when released and continue their medication. They can go to work without having their illness interfere. But if they don’t fill the prescription, maybe they have a seizure, they don’t show up for work, they lose their job and then go back to street crime.”

And, Kriya Patel, a University of Pennsylvania graduate, recently obtained funding to run a similar pilot at Riverside Correctional Facility, the city’s jail for women. She learned about the issue from Kathleen Brown, a nursing professor who runs programming with Why Not Prosper.

The female jail population is especially needy, Herdman notes: 25 percent have serious mental illness, and 60 percent use psychotropic medication.

For everyone else leaving the jails – and there are thousands each month, leaving at all hours of the day and night – reentry services providers are cobbling together resources as best they can.

One manifestation of that is a trailer just outside the walls of the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, the city’s largest jail. The trailer is dingy on the outside, but the interior is newly renovated and, on a visit this summer, blissfully air conditioned. It hosts, among other resources, a row of computers set up for people to fill out medical assistance applications and, once a week, a state Human Services enrollment specialist to help.

But in its first month, it saw fewer than 100 visitors.

“Right now, it’s really slow,” conceded William Hart, who works for the city’s reentry program, RISE, connecting employers with a workforce of ex-offenders. He’s finding it’s hard to get people to stop in on their way out of jail. “The guys call it sidewalk therapy. They’re looking to get out of here and walk the pavement.”

Soon maybe they won’t have to.

Thanks to Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania in 2015, almost everyone passing through Philadelphia jails is eligible for coverage. Herdman said efforts are underway to presume eligibility for all inmates and fill out applications for them as part of the discharge process.

But coverage alone isn’t enough, said Maureen Barden, who’s been working on the issue with the Pennsylvania Health Law Project and agencies around the state. It’s just the first step.

“The handoff to services in the community is a tremendously important part, which is still to be implemented in most places. Getting people the [insurance] card is not going to be enough for most people to turn the tide and have them not return to jail,” she said. “Connection to care as this movement goes forward will be recognized as an increasingly important thing.”

Opportunity: Become a Champion in Action!

Call for applications for the 2017 Champions in Action in the Addiction Prevention & Treatment Services category.

To address the growing needs, Citizens Bank has partnered with NBC 10/Telemundo 62 for its Champions in Action program — a unique initiative designed to provide significant financial, promotional, and volunteer support for non-profit organizations that address the needs and concerns of our diverse neighborhoods.

Targeting nonprofit organizations or partnerships working to provide addiction prevention & treatment services addressing substance abuse, treatment, education and prevention. The Champions in Action award will be presented to an addiction prevention & treatment program or partnership with a demonstrated history of success and measurement. The non-profit should apply for the award and include success/metrics around the success of the program individually or if through collaboration with another partner(s), the lead non-profit should apply. To apply,
complete the online application at the link below or visit www.citizensbank.com/community/champions/become.aspx.

The 16th Employment Supports Symposium: Employment First, Employment Now! (Two-Day Event)

Networks for Training and Development, Inc., in conjunction with Philadelphia DBHIDS, proudly presents the 16th Employment Supports Symposium: “Employment First, Employment Now!”

The disability services system has changed by leaps and bounds since the days of hushed voices and institutions, but there is still a lot of work to do in order to make true community integration a reality for all, even those with the most significant disabilities. Come and hear about the exciting opportunities for systems change provided by Employment First policies, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and recent final Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) rule. The opportunities for meaningful systems change are great, and community integration for all, no matter their level of need, is closer than ever.

Peer Culture Support and Leadership Report Launch (POSTPONED)

Note: This event has been postponed. Additional information will be added once the event has been rescheduled.

DBHIDS is pleased to announce the completion of the Peer Culture Report, A Decade of Peer Culture, Support and Leadership: Igniting Behavioral Health Transformation in Philadelphia. Please join us as we launch the peer culture report and a new web-based Peer-Support Toolkit

You will learn about the recent changes to DBHIDS’ Strategic Planning Division. Learn about DBHIDS Peer Culture and Community Inclusion Unit: Who we are and what we do. Learn about the analysis of impact of a decade of peer culture, support and leadership in Philadelphia. Lessons learned and future direction of Philadelphia systems transformation.

Learn about DBHIDS’ new web-based Peer-Support Toolkit and how to use it for:

  1.  Preparing the Organizational Culture
  2.  Interviewing and Hiring
  3.  Service Delivery
  4.  Supervision and Retention

 

Network of Neighbors: Trauma Responder Training (Day 3 of 3)

This 2.5-day training will equip attendees to support individuals and communities after incidents of violence. The two trainings included are:

  • Psychological First Aid—an evidence-informed approach for assisting children, adolescents, adults, and families in the aftermath of disaster and terrorism
  • Post-traumatic stress management -— a community-based acute trauma response intervention to be utilized in the wake of community violence

Trauma Responders who attend the full training will be equipped to offer group supports, which

  • Foster the natural, human tendency to group together, seeking solace and safety after traumatic incidents
  • Reduce acute traumatic stress common among survivors
  • Refer to and access community based resources as needed

13 general CEU credit hours available.

Interested in the Trauma Responder Training?  Please visit the Network of Neighbors site or connect with Network of Neighbors for more information.

Note: This is the third of three events in the training curriculum.

Network of Neighbors: Trauma Responder Training (Day 2 of 3)

This 2.5-day training will equip attendees to support individuals and communities after incidents of violence. The two trainings included are:

  • Psychological First Aid—an evidence-informed approach for assisting children, adolescents, adults, and families in the aftermath of disaster and terrorism
  • Post-traumatic stress management -— a community-based acute trauma response intervention to be utilized in the wake of community violence

Trauma Responders who attend the full training will be equipped to offer group supports, which

  • Foster the natural, human tendency to group together, seeking solace and safety after traumatic incidents
  • Reduce acute traumatic stress common among survivors
  • Refer to and access community based resources as needed

13 general CEU credit hours available.

Interested in the Trauma Responder Training?  Please visit the Network of Neighbors site or connect with Network of Neighbors for more information.

Note: This is the second of three events in the training curriculum.

Network of Neighbors: Trauma Responder Training (Day 1 of 3)

This 2.5-day training will equip attendees to support individuals and communities after incidents of violence. The two trainings included are:

  • Psychological First Aid—an evidence-informed approach for assisting children, adolescents, adults, and families in the aftermath of disaster and terrorism
  • Post-traumatic stress management -— a community-based acute trauma response intervention to be utilized in the wake of community violence

Trauma Responders who attend the full training will be equipped to offer group supports, which

  • Foster the natural, human tendency to group together, seeking solace and safety after traumatic incidents
  • Reduce acute traumatic stress common among survivors
  • Refer to and access community based resources as needed

13 general CEU credit hours available.

Interested in the Trauma Responder Training?  Please visit the Network of Neighbors site or connect with Network of Neighbors for more information.

Note: This is the first of three events in the training curriculum.

Performance Evaluation Analytics Research

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Performance Evaluation, Analytics, and Research (PEAR)

The Performance Evaluation, Analytics and Research (PEAR) Department supports cross-systems decision making on practices and policies that promote recovery, resilience, and self-determination for our members and their communities. PEAR strives to accomplish its mission through the use of quality data and sound analytic methods.

Some ongoing PEAR activities include:

  • Provide analytic support for HealthChoices standards reporting
  • Monitor performance measures for DBHIDS
  • Manage Pay-for-Performance (P4P), a quality improvement and performance management initiative
  • Establish processes to effectively evaluate programs and services
  • Support collaboration with physical health managed care organizations to enhance care coordination and improve outcomes.

PEAR Newsletters