Bringing Coordinated Services to Soon-to-be-Released Puerto Rican Inmates in Springfield, Mass.

Developing a sustainable program to bring community services to incarcerated Puerto Rican immigrants and their families

From December 2005 to May 2008, staff members and consultants at the North End Outreach Network (NEON), a coalition of community service organizations in Springfield, Mass.:

  • Expanded outreach to soon-to-be-released inmates and their families in the North End of Springfield
  • Increased the agency's financial and institutional capacity

Springfield's North End is the poorest community in Massachusetts. Approximately 50 percent of its residents either have been incarcerated or are family members of an inmate. NEON uses a network of community health workers to help meet the needs of the community for social and medical services and to engage families in civic life in order to promote family and neighborhood stability.

Key Results:

  • NEON served 188 inmates in the first year, 300 in the second year and 163 in the third year. Outreach workers met with inmates shortly before their release to assess their needs and helped coordinate access to social and medical services once they returned to the community. NEON workers also visited families of inmates.
  • NEON tackled many of its budget, staffing and governance challenges, implementing fiscal controls and beginning to collect data more systematically, with help from a project consultant.
  • With other community stakeholders, NEON helped develop a long-range plan for a $4 million, seven-year investment by Baystate Health Systems in the North End.