5 Pillars of Livability
What sets us apart is our steadfast focus on the root causes of cyclical incarceration and recidivism through our 5 Pillars of Livability framework, which addresses what our clients need to succeed.
Yet it is our gender responsive and trauma-informed approach with each and every client that ensures continued success. By helping women, we have also impacted the lives of more than 5,000 children and countless families across our community.
One of the first tasks for new residents upon arrival at Friends of Guest House is to complete an intake evaluation at the City of Alexandria Community Services Board. The evaluation determines what mental health services each woman will need in order to transition successfully from incarceration to the community. The most common mental health issues include depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Referrals are made to Neighborhood Health to evaluate physical health needs. Residents then work with their dedicated case manager to establish a plan to address any outstanding physical health concerns. Common physical health issues include: poorly managed diabetes, hypertension, Hepatitis, unaddressed dental issues, obesity, and arthritis.
All residents participate in the Friends of Guest House Workforce and Life Development Program. The program is a combination of professional and personal skills to prepare residents for employment and to succeed once employed. Joblessness is the single most important predictor of recidivism. Upon completion of the Workforce and Life Development Program, graduates will obtain career-focused employment with a livable wage to support themselves and their families.
Upon arrival at Friends of Guest House, all residents complete an intake evaluation with their dedicated case manager. The evaluation assesses for education level. If a resident needs education support, the resident and case manager will make a plan to address their education needs. Education needs addressed immediately are literacy issues and GED preparation. Residents are also encouraged to start or complete higher level education, or pursue trade skills.
The Friends of Guest House Residential Program addresses the immediate need for housing upon release from jail or prison; however, the program is just six months, and residents need permanent housing upon their exit from the Residential Program. The Friends of Guest House Second Chance Community is available for eligible Aftercare clients. The house offers single rooms that our clients can affordably rent on a transitional basis. In future years, we hope to open more such communities to ease the shortage of accessible housing for reentering women. Returning citizens are at a high risk of homelessness due to hiring practices and housing practices that discriminate against those with criminal records. In addition, those experiencing homelessness are at an increased risk of incarceration; therefore preventing homelessness is key to reducing recidivism.
With respect to female reentry, family/community reconnection is one of the most important factors in successful reentry. Women who are reunited with their families, most notably their children, are less likely to return to prison. Friends of Guest House offers parenting classes so women can start to learn the tools and skills they will need to return to their children’s’ lives. In addition, building a strong, supportive community helps women to succeed post-incarceration. This community can include: family, friends, their Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous network, religious groups, etc.