Overview and Inventory of HHS Efforts to Assist Incarcerated and Reentering Individuals and their Families . Human Services Needs


Research reveals that many prisoners return home in need of help to reintegrate into their community and into their families. They lack the proper means to reconnect with family members, acquire housing and jobs, and overcome substance abuse and other health problems. Even worse, ex-offenders are increasingly returning to neighborhoods that are plagued with concentrated social and economic disadvantage. Landing in such communities post-release exacerbates the challenges of reentry and increases the odds of recidivating.

Families are an important source of housing, emotional support, financial resources, and overall stability for returning prisoners, and as such, they play a critical role in the successful reentry of individuals from prison to the community. HHS has a role in ameliorating the effects of incarceration on family formation and functioning, thereby increasing the support that an ex-offender has when he/she returns to the community. The Department’s special focus on vulnerable children and families also extends its responsibility to families and communities experiencing distress because of disproportionately high rates of incarceration in poor and minority communities. Family instability, along with poverty, drive the need for many HHS program services, and incarceration is likely to play a direct role for some programs.

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