When the COVID-19 outbreak first hit New York City in March, EAC Network’s Community Re-Entry Assistance Network (CRAN) faced a quandary. Despite New York’s social distancing guidelines and community program disruptions, the need for its services continued – and was even more acute as the city expedited discharges from Rikers island to mitigate the spread of the virus. Given the city pandemic response guidelines, CRAN needed to move rapidly and creatively to continue assisting individuals with mental illnesses who were transitioning from Rikers Island. Our NYC re-entry assistance program developed a virtual capacity for its evaluation, support and linkage services, while always maintaining in-person direct care service capacity for those clients who needed to be seen and/or those unable to access services remotely. CRAN, thus, never missed a beat throughout the pandemic.
What is our Community Re-Entry Assistance Network?
EAC Network’s CRAN program provides transitional case management services to individuals with severe mental illnesses who are re-entering the New York City community from Rikers Island. It is comprised of five different re-entry assistance programs located in each of the boroughs of the city. CRAN is focused on addressing the many re-entry challenges facing the mentally ill, an over-represented segment of those currently in the criminal justice system.
How Our Re-Entry Assistance Program Adapted to COVID-19
John came to the Brooklyn CRAN office from a hospital where he’d been sent from Rikers Island, post-incarceration. When client arrived, his case manager, Gloria, gave him water and snacks, while she did an evaluation of his immediate clinical needs and safety.
John said that was enthusiastic about being in the community and stating that he was feeling well physically and mentally. But John was homeless and needed ongoing treatment. Gloria arranged for shelter placement, in collaboration with John set up all his follow-up appointments. She also helped him coordinate all of those services with his parole reporting requirement. John agreed to call Gloria the next day, or as soon as once he retrieves his phone from his property.
In the new, post-COVID world, though, their conversations took place over a special, socially distanced phone set up in our Brooklyn office to allow for safe face-to-face visits. And their conversations included a discussion of COVID-related safety practices. As usual, Gloria gave John clothing, a hygiene kit, and MetroCards. But now, she also gave him a mask and hand sanitizer.
At a challenging time, CRAN rose to the occasion, ensuring that no individual who needed assistance with transitioning from Rikers Island was left without a support network.
How We Assist with Community Re-Entry from Rikers
Our NYC re-entry assistance program conducts comprehensive assessments and creates individualized treatment plans that connect participants to applicable community services.
By addressing behavioral health needs with supportive services, we aim to fully integrate the participants of our re-entry assistance program back into the community, reducing the chances of re-incarceration.
To achieve this goal, our case manager develops working alliances with participants to help them obtain many key support services, including:
- Mental health
- Substance abuse
As a result, participants of our re-entry assistance program can establish long-term stability in the community.
How You Can Support This Vital Program and Others
To support EAC Network, consider contributing to our Donate For Good campaign, a fundraiser to help us meet the unprecedented demand for our programs and services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your donations will go directly to help vulnerable children, parents, and seniors who depend on us every day for support services, including Meals on Wheels, and the Suffolk County Child Advocacy Center.
Donate today to help create a brighter future for your neighbors in need!