New Funding to Expand Support Services for New Yorkers Re-entering Communities from Jail

In the U.S., nearly 2.2 million persons are held in jail or prison, representing the largest incarcerated population in the world. Persons with justice involvement (PWJI) re-entering their communities after incarceration face many challenges and barriers to successful and long-term community re-integration, including poor physical, mental and social health. These challenges may contribute to further contact with the criminal justice system. Approximately 42 percent of people released from New York prisons return within three years.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. has announced grants to four organizations under the District Attorney’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (CJII) to improve outcomes for individuals re-entering New York City (NYC) communities from jail or prison. These funds expand re-entry services and support these organizations in filling key gaps in the re-entry landscape. Doing so will help PWJI successfully re-integrate into the community, and ultimately increase public health and public safety in the city.

The Fund for Public Health in New York City (FPHNYC) in collaboration with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene received $3,075,000 from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to support the NYC Health Justice Network (HJN) over three and a half years. The HJN is an innovative new program that improves the health and well-being of PWJI by increasing their access to, engagement in and quality of community-based health and social services.

Primary care and community-based organizations (CBOs) with experience serving PWJI will partner to serve HJN clients, using an innovative client engagement strategy that includes:-

-Community health workers with personal experience, commonly referred to as “lived experience,” of the criminal justice system who will be embedded in clinical teams and function as navigators, educators and advocates between health and social service systems

-Trauma-informed care interventions in the clinical and social service environment that will enable service providers to be more aware of and able to address histories of trauma, recognizing its impact and associated health risks

“Good primary care improves health outcomes. This is especially important for people who have a history of involvement with the justice system, because they have high rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking. The New York City Health Justice Network, to be piloted in Upper Manhattan, will make it easier for this population to engage consistently in high quality primary care and social services, including housing, transportation and employment support. I thank Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance for his generous investment to launch this program,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett.

“We are pleased to collaborate with the Health Department to ensure that persons with justice involvement receive appropriate health and social services upon reentry,” said Sara Gardner, executive director of the Fund for Public Health in New York City. “This initiative builds on our belief that effective public health solutions are not punitive, but holistic, multi-layered and supportive.”

This work and these funds are a part of District Attorney Vance’s $250 million Criminal Justice Investment Initiative, which consists of a comprehensive set of strategic investments that, together, will have a significant, lasting impact on public safety and justice reform in New York City.

Visit cjii.org for more information about the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative.

Class Action Lawsuit Rules in Favor of Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program Grantees

In July 2017, Sara Gardner, executive director of the Fund for Public Health in New York City (FPHNYC), shared the alarming news that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), under the leadership of the Trump administration, announced early termination of grants through the bipartisan and evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program. TPP was established in 2010 as a national program to fund youth-focused evidenced-based programs aimed at preventing teen pregnancy. In April 2018, HHS had announced changes to the TPP Program, which would shift future funding to organizations that emphasized abstinence or “sexual risk avoidance.”

In February 2018, FPHNYC joined in a class-action lawsuit that argued that HHS illegally ended grants to organizations participating in the original program. This month, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of TPP Program grant recipients. The Court held that last year’s termination of TPP Program grants was unlawful, and ordered HHS to reinstate the grants. This was the fifth time in recent months that a federal judge ruled the cuts to be unlawful, meaning that virtually all of the current 84 grant recipients will have their funding restored.

FPHNYC has collaborated with the NYC Department of Health to implement programs such as Bronx Teens Connection and the current TPP-funded initiative called NYC Teens Connection, which expands important work piloted in the Bronx to Brooklyn and Staten Island. Bronx Teens Connection, which began in 2010, supports partnerships between 40 schools, clinics and youth-service organizations. These partners work together to connect young, at-risk students to school-based health centers and community clinics with a goal of reaching 15,000 youth annually.

The restored funding will allow NYC to continue to provide NYC youth with a chance for better health, educational attainment and economic opportunities. It will also ensure the continued success of the TPP program, which has contributed to a 53 percent decline in the city’s teen pregnancy rates since 2000. Learn more about the impact of Bronx Teens Connection here.