Pathways to Reconnection

Youth growing up in high poverty or economically distressed communities are disconnecting at alarming rates from the education and labor market mainstream.  This disconnection has persisted for more than a decade in part because systems, policies, funding streams, and even advocacy related to adolescents and young adults are disconnected and wholly inadequate.  CLASP’s work in this area focuses on how federal policy can enhance youth serving systems and funding streams to create the comprehensive supports and delivery infrastructure needed to reconnect youth to positive pathways.

To learn more about the framing of the disconnected youth challenge, view Youth Employment: New Challenges in Knowledge-based Economies.                                     

May 5, 2016  |  PERMALINK »

Medicaid is Critical Support for Citizens Re-entering their Communities from Incarceration

By Andrea Amaechi and Suzanne Wikle

With efforts like “ban the box,” restoration of voting rights, and “Second Chance Pell” grants, the tide is turning for people re-entering communities after incarceration.  New guidance from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reinforces the importance of access to health care for citizens re-entering their communities, provides clarification of exactly when eligibility for Medicaid begins, and encourages states to help people apply for Medicaid prior to their release. Access to Medicaid is especially important because people in correctional facilities have profound health problems, experiencing dramatically higher rates of mental illness, substance abuse, infectious disease, suicide, and violence than the general population. Medicaid enrollment breaks down an important barrier to establishing stability and provides access to behavioral health care and prescription medication—two resources that may often be critical factors for a successful re-entry to communities.

For example, many youth involved in the justice system have been exposed to high levels of toxic stress—resulting from extreme poverty, neglect, abuse, or witnessing violence—which can interrupt their normal brain development with long-term consequences for learning, behavior, and physical and mental health. The negative effects of these experiences often endure into adulthood. Conditions in detention centers and juvenile justice facilities, including violence and use of seclusion and restraint, can exacerbate existing mental health issues. The trauma brought on by these adverse childhood experiences necessitates that justice-involved youth in community settings be connected to high-quality, culturally competent health care and mental health interventions.

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