BLOG: Caring for Community – Supporting Citizens Returning to Society

By Dr. Cameual Wright, CareSource Medical Director, Indiana Market

Every month, over 850 individuals are released from one of Indiana’s correctional facilities. Citizens reentering society after being released from prison are faced with a multitude of physical and social challenges and often lack necessities to get back on their feet. As a result, returning citizens are 12.5 times more likely to die than the average citizen in the first two weeks after release.

CareSource is proud to support these vulnerable citizens through our CareSource Reentry Program™. Through this innovative program, we coordinate comprehensive medical care for returning citizens that includes mental health, physical health and substance use disorder treatment, as well as social needs such as nutrition, employment, housing and transportation issues that affect a person’s total health and well-being. We are uniquely positioned to dedicate resources to supporting the ex-offenders returning to their communities each year.

To help individuals thrive and gain self-sufficiency upon release, CareSource provides Criminal Justice Liaisons (CJL) to work with individuals while they are still in prison. These CJLs conduct pre-release education classes as well as coordinate care and community services upon release. The CareSource Reentry Team also provides health screenings for returning citizens. Based on these results, our team creates an individualized care plan based on the member’s unique medical and behaviors health needs, social needs and self-sufficiency goals. Through CareSource’s JobConnect™ Program, individuals may also connect with a Life Coach who provides support for their employment and education goals. Our initial plan to build processes to serve criminal justice-involved members has since evolved into a scalable model of care for returning citizens. Our CareSource Reentry Program™, originally intended to be in two prisons, is now present in all 15 state run correctional facilities in Indiana.

Preliminary data shows that when CareSource engages and connects with a returning citizen, he or she is 30% more likely to complete a state-mandated Health Needs Screening, which provides valuable information on the medical and social needs of the member, than unengaged members. They are also more likely to obtain necessary behavioral health care and appropriate follow up and are less likely to utilize the Emergency Department for care.

The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the challenges that these returning citizens face. Due to social distancing guidelines, connectivity and much needed social support has become increasingly difficult for returning citizens. The spike in the unemployment rate as a result of the pandemic has also increased the challenge for returning citizens to gain employment in an already competitive job market. Our reentry team is working extremely hard to be creative and work with community partners and our JobConnect™ team to make necessary community connections and get returning citizens the support they need to meet their personal goals.

We encourage everyone to learn more and understand this program and these individuals so that we all may help their reintegration into and contribution to our society. To find out more about CareSource’s Reentry Program, you may visit caresource.com. You may also contact our reentry team at indianare-entry@caresource.com.

To learn more about CareSource, listen to Episode 86.