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MU Evaluators Give a Thumbs Up to Funding Initiative

Missouri Department of Corrections Reentry Funding Program Passes Its First Test

June 15th, 2010

Story Contact: Nathan Hurst, 573-882-6217, hurstn@missouri.edu

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— One task of the Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC) is to rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders back into society after serving prison sentences. As part of this process, the DOC launched the Community Reentry Funding Initiative in 2009. Managing the program is the Institute of Public Policy in the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri. The Institute acts as the funding manager for the initiative as well as the evaluator of its impact on offenders throughout the state. Emily Johnson, a coordinator and policy analyst in the Institute of Public Policy, says the program is important for many reasons.

“The funding allows local agencies to identify gaps in services in their communities and fill those gaps with vital services such as job training, transitional housing, transportation, and to meet basic needs with clothing and hygiene items,” Johnson said. “These services allow clients to be more successful in their communities and thus reduce the risk of reoffending or returning to prison.”

In the 2009 Community Reentry Funding Initiative program, 27 agencies around the state of Missouri were selected to receive up to $25,000 to support their reintegration programs. The agencies include non-profit organizations, faith-based groups, and local government programs. The agencies used the funds to provide nearly 3,500 clients with services such as basic needs, employment, housing, and transportation.

The Institute of Public Policy used the first round of funding in 2009 to evaluate the initiative and the agencies that received funding.  This evaluation looks at how each agency is spending the money granted by the DOC. During their evaluation, the Institute of Public Policy found that the agencies reported increased employment rates, access to safe and affordable housing and job readiness skills among the offenders in each program.

“The initial evaluation of this first round of funding analyzed the process and impact of the programs in the community,” Johnson said. “Analysis of future rounds of funding will focus on long term outcomes such as a reduction in recidivism among participants.”

Ultimately, evaluators believe the Community Reentry Funding Initiative achieved its initial goal of distributing funds to provide support for individuals reentering the Missouri community. Johnson says the lessons learned from the first round of funding will surely shape and enhance the funding process and its impact in the community. Currently the program is in its second round of funding, with a third round set to begin in August. The third round will provide up to $100,000 per agency to support the reentry process. The Institute of Public Policy will continue to evaluate the funding initiative for the Missouri Department of Corrections.

The Institute of Public Policy is a research and public service entity committed to increasing knowledge and understanding of issues facing Missouri state and local governments. It provides policy research to policymakers and conducts program evaluation and other applied research through contracts with public and non-profit entities. The Institute is a part of the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri.

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