(Washington, DC) — (RealEstateRama) — During Fair Shot February, the Bowser Administration launched the READY (Resources to Empower and Develop You) Center. The READY Center is a one-stop shop where formerly incarcerated District residents can access critical post-release services such as housing and employment assistance as well as educational and health care supports and opportunities. Returning citizens can also obtain vital documents and get connected to programs for substance use disorder and mental health aftercare. The READY Center is located behind the Correctional Treatment Facility (1901 E Street, SE).
“To give more returning citizens a fair shot, we must continue building strong support systems for men and women transitioning back into the community,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “By partnering with community-based organizations and working across DC Government agencies, we can set more residents up for success by providing more immediate access to employment, housing, educational opportunities, health care, and more.”
The READY Center is a collaboration between the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs (MORCA), Department of Corrections (DOC), Department of Behavioral Health (DBH), Department of Human Services (DHS), Department of Employment Services (DOES), Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and community-based organizations. All partners work collectively to ensure successful reintegration into the community for returning citizens.
Within 30 days prior to an inmate’s release, he or she will fill out an interest card to identify his or her post-release needs. Upon release, returning citizens will participate in a one-time visit to the READY Center (the same day as their release or the next business day). The READY Center will connect participants with MORCA, community-based organizations, and other DC Government agencies for ongoing case management. All follow-up visits will be handled at the respective agency.
“The launch of the Ready Center ensures our returning citizens are able to get connected to necessary mental health care and substance abuse disorder treatment upon release from the DC Department of Corrections,” said Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, Interim Director of the DC Department of Behavioral Health. “This multi- agency collaboration strengthens our collective ability to provide individuals with the tools needed to be successful while increasing their opportunity for optimal health.”
“The Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs is thrilled to take part in the opening of the READY Center,” said Brian Ferguson, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Returning Citizen Affairs. “This marks a significant milestone in the District’s already nationally recognized reentry services, as several core service agencies collaborate to ensure that the men and women leaving the jail are given direct access to the essential resources needed to create successful transitions back into society. MORCA looks forward to working hand in hand with the READY Center and all of the other District agency partners to begin the process of reentry prior to release.”
“Re-entry begins the day of admittance into our facilities,” said Quincy Booth, Director of the DC Department of Corrections. “The READY Center gives us an opportunity to prepare and equip residents with as many tools and resources to guide them after they are released, but mainly to help them succeed. We want them to leave with a plan. This approach helps us to reduce recidivism.”
“Partnering with the READY Center team is especially meaningful for DOES because we understand that employment is a critical component of reentry,” said Dr. Unique Morris-Hughes, Director of the DC Department of Employment Services. “Investing in our returning citizen population is a win-win proposition that benefits our residents and impacts our neighborhoods and communities.”
“The DC Department of Motor Vehicles is pleased to be a part of this opportunity to ensure all residents have an opportunity to succeed,” said Lucinda Babers, Director of the Department of Motor Vehicles. “A critical component to that success is identification, such as the ID cards we will be issued at the READY Center.”
The READY Center Agency Partners:
The Department of Employment Services (DOES) will provide hands-on assistance in helping returning citizens navigate reintegration by identifying appropriate workforce development services. A staff person from DOES’ Division of State Initiatives will be on site full-time to assess the skillset and workforce training needs of READY Center customers. Individuals will be connected to work readiness programs offered by DOES that include DC Career Connections, an earn as you learn program for young adults ages 20 to 24, and Project Empowerment, a transitional employment program for District residents who face challenges in securing employment.
Through the Department of Human Services participants may apply for Medicaid benefits, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), employment and educational programs, and family support services.
The Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) will ensure individuals being released from DOC are properly linked to the behavioral health resources and services that they may need. DOC will make the referral for the individual to DBH while at the Ready Center. DBH staff will determine their phase of care and then confirm their linkage and intake appointment. Staff will also provide follow-up services for individuals upon release. The following DBH staff will be located at The READY Center: Social Worker, Mental Health Specialist and Peer Support Specialist.
The Mayor’s Office of Returning Citizens Affairs (MORCA) will provide case management and referrals for resources such as birth certificates, social security cards, ticket adjustments and various training programs.
Through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) participants may apply for identification cards, renew or replace their driver’s license, and arrange payment plans to resolve any outstanding parking or traffic tickets.