Bridging The Gap is a mentor based program to work with individuals in preparing them, for their greatest opportunity for success.
Bridging The Gap looks at ways to decrease the recidivism and homeless in participants and move them towards a successful re-entry program. We implemented BRIDGES.
BRIDGES works in the following way.
(B)eginning with a referral from an organization to the Bridging The Gap Program, the participant completes an intake package. This intake package will identify emergency needs and secondary needs are identified.
(R)e-entry is the process where stable housing is secured or verified and basic human needs are provided for. In this part of the program, the participant is introduced to a peer mentor who will shadow the individual and assist the individual into developing appropriate social skills and mannerism to re-enter society. This will be the transition process from an institutional setting to permanent housing.
The (I)dentification stage is where the participants works with a mentor to identify needs. This Identification Process will focus on housing needs, medical needs, psychiatric services, employment, resume writing, education and personal development. Through this Identification Process, the participant can look at resources within their community to access. The mentor will assist the participant through a ‘Systems Navigator’. A Systems Navigator will work with the participant to assist them in identifying programs and completing the form. Often in human service, there are barriers that bar people from the services that they need. Some of these barriers are language. More commonly, the barrier is just the experience in how the system works and applying the steps outlined to complete the task at hand. The Systems Navigator will work to keep the participant on-task since often the participant has been removed from society and has minimal skills in accessing programs and services. These barriers are often based on education and the self-induced trauma through homelessness.
(D)evelopment of a plan with targeted timeframes that can be examined is next. Through this development, the mentor will work with the participant in Systems Navigation. However, the mentor will not place the calls or complete the forms for the participant. The participant will be responsible for completing those in a mode of self-sufficiency. The mentor will shadow to enhance the participants confidence, competency, and skill sets.
(G)oals will be identified and the necessary steps to be taken to complete the targeted goals. Through the Goals Stage, the participant will have to identify short term, mid-range and long term goals. Through this venue, the peer mentor can identify for the participant that they are on-task with their goals or off-task. Short-term goals might be any type of employment opportunities; whereas, a long-term goal might be to complete a C.D.L. certification for improved employment.
The next stage is the (E)ntry stage where a participant will secure viable employment and integrate into the recovering community through the assistance of a mentor.
In the final stage, the participant returns to (S)ociety as a productive member able to financially support their families in a meaningful way.
The Bridging the Gap program will assist the participants by working with corporations to hire participants using the Work Opportunity Tax Incentive to benefit both the corporation and society at large. Through these individuals becoming productive, responsible human beings, the burden on the public dollar will be reduced and thereby will enhance not only the participant but our communities as well.