The Goldring Reentry Initiative (GRI), a program within the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2), is a field placement option for Masters of Social Work (MSW) students.
MSW students in the GRI work one-on-one with people transitioning out of the Philadelphia Department of Prisons, both pre- and post-release. GRI caseworkers meet individually with each client on their caseload for an hour each week from September through the end of April. The GRI uses a therapeutic case management model; clinical techniques are used to address client concerns while wrap-around case management is provided.
While incarcerated, the client and GRI caseworker discuss the client’s goals, strengths, and needs for a successful transition out of jail. Caseworkers and clients work together to develop a comprehensive individualized reentry plan to help clients successfully transition out of jail and into their communities with the hope of lowering the risk of recidivism and/or reincarceration.
Through the GRI, clinical and macro MSW students gain knowledge and skills through a variety of activities, including:
- Individual therapeutic and case management focused sessions with men and women who are currently and were previously incarcerated;
- A weekly group seminar and group supervision;
- Resource sharing with peers;
- Weekly group and supervision from a master level social worker;
- Interdisciplinary coordination with community providers; and
- Opportunities to research and discuss intersections of mass incarceration.
The continuum of care model within which the GRI operates is designed to bridge the service gap between jail and the community in order to support clients in the transition process. MSW interns work with men and women for approximately the last three months of their incarceration in the Philadelphia Department of Prisons (PDP) and approximately the first three months post-release in the community. Prior to a client’s release from the PDP, the client works with the GRI caseworker to complete a comprehensive reentry plan that focuses on the unique strengths, goals, and needs of each individual. The reentry plan addresses identification, physical and mental health, education, employment, benefits, housing, drug and alcohol issues, family reunification, and community support. Developing this document allows the GRI caseworker to assist the client in accessing services and working toward goal attainment. Post release, GRI caseworkers and their clients continue to meet each week in the community to realize their goals and adjust/implement the client reentry plan. The role of the GRI caseworker is crucial, as limited accessibility to resources and inadequate support significantly increases the likelihood of recidivating.