February 2007

Grant Results

SUMMARY

From August 1998 through July 2001, researchers at the Vera Institute of Justice evaluated La Bodega de la Familia, a program operated by the Vera Institute and dedicated to improving family well-being by supporting families of drug users under parole or probation supervision.

In 2001, La Bodega de la Familia moved to Family Justice, a new national organization created to influence and improve criminal justice policies and practice. From November 2004 to January 2006, staff at Family Justice designed and began to implement a strategic communications plan aimed at expanding the new organization's scope and reach.

Key Findings
The evaluation of La Bodega de la Familia found that:

  • Substance use (illegal drugs, methadone, alcohol to intoxication, abuse of amphetamines, sedatives or barbiturates) among participants in La Bodega de la Familia declined by 42 percent over six months, compared with a 7 percent decline among comparison group members over the same time period.
  • Illegal drug use (heroin, cocaine, crack, marijuana and hallucinogens) among participants in La Bodega de la Familia declined by 47.5 percent over six months, compared with a 21 percent decline among comparison group members over the same time period.
  • Families participating in La Bodega de la Familia program were about 50 percent less likely to be arrested and convicted of a new offense as comparison group members.

The story of Carlos, now 37, who started using heroin as a teenager and has been in and out of prisons and jails since age 18, is a good example of the importance of family and community connections…more.

Funding
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided an unsolicited grant of $115,924 (ID# 034537) and a second unsolicited grant of $75,000 (ID# 051786) for the two parts of the project.

 See Grant Detail & Contact Information
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THE PROBLEM

At the end of 1996, more than 1.7 million Americans were in jail or prison, and 80 percent of them (some 1.4 million men and women behind bars in America) had been imprisoned for crimes linked to drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, according to a 1998 report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA).

These people violated drug or alcohol laws, were intoxicated at the time they committed their crimes, stole property to buy drugs or had a history of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction — or shared some combination of these characteristics.

Families play a critical role in helping ex-offenders achieve sobriety and avoid reincarceration. According to a 2004 Urban Institute report, ex-offenders living in Chicago cited family as the most important factor in helping them stay out of prison:

  • 92 percent reported getting financial support from a family member.
  • 88 percent were living with family four to eight months after release.

These findings suggest that service providers should work with family members as well as individual offenders to help the reentry process after prison.

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RWJF STRATEGY

RWJF has supported efforts to decrease recidivism by providing post-release services to prisoners:

  • The HealthLink program to provide in-jail and post-release services to women and adolescent inmates ages 16 to 18 at New York City's Rikers Island correctional complex, and a formal, quantitative evaluation of Health Link by Mathematica Policy Research. See Grant Results on ID# 036950, etc.
  • The planning, implementation and evaluation of Opportunity to Succeed (OPTS), a demonstration program designed to reduce substance abuse relapse and criminal recidivism by providing post-incarceration supportive services to felony offenders with drug- and alcohol-offense histories. See the Grant Results on ID# 020660.
  • Reclaiming Futures: Communities Helping Teens Overcome Drugs, Alcohol & Crime® Initiative to build community solutions to substance abuse and delinquency by developing the systems infrastructure necessary to deliver comprehensive care within the juvenile justice system.
  • Increasing African-American inmates' access to addiction care or diversion programs, a program run by the National African American Drug Policy Coalition (NAADPC). NAADPC is a coalition of 15 African-American professional associations dedicated to increasing access to quality addiction treatment services (ID# 053825).

RWJF also has supported a number of projects to help the families of people who abuse alcohol or drugs as well as those using the substances themselves:

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THE PROJECT: GRANT ID# 034537: EVALUATING LA BODEGA DE LA FAMILIA

The Vera Institute of Justice is a national organization that works with government officials to improve the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. From August 1998 to July 2001, researchers at the Vera Institute evaluated La Bodega de la Familia, a storefront demonstration program launched by the Vera Institute in 1996 to:

  • Engage and support families of people under parole or probation supervision.
  • Improve family health, well-being and substance abuse treatment outcomes.
  • Reduce incarceration due to substance abuse relapses.

La Bodega de la Familia uses a family case management approach. Case managers provide counseling services to address personal and family concerns, 24-hour crisis intervention services and assistance in helping families navigate criminal justice and other public agencies.

Study Design

The evaluation of La Bodega de la Familia sought to determine whether participation in the program reduced drug use of parolees and improved the health and social functioning of individuals and families.

Using instruments that measure self-reported physical and mental health, family functioning and social support, researchers interviewed participants in La Bodega de la Familia and a comparison group of people who participated in other community-based programs.

  • Study Group. Researchers interviewed 90 drug users and 71 of their family members when they entered La Bodega de La Familia and 50 users and 46 family members six months later.
  • Comparison Group. Researchers interviewed 94 drug users and 48 of their family members when they entered another program and 71 drug users and 33 family members six months later.

Researchers also conducted in-depth interviews with a subset of both groups to gather participants' perceptions of La Bodega de la Familia and to explore changes in the lives of both Bodega and comparison group members.

The Jacob and Valeria Langeloth Foundation, the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation and the National Institute of Justice also provided funds for the evaluation.

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EVALUATION FINDINGS

Researchers documented the following findings in a report entitled "Families as a Resource in Recovery from Drug Abuse: An Evaluation of La Bodega de la Familia" (available online):

  • Participants in the Bodega program reduced their use of substances at a significantly higher rate than those in the comparison group.
      Among participants in La Bodega de la Familia:
      • Some 86 percent said they had used a substance (illegal drugs, methadone, alcohol to intoxication, abuse of amphetamines, sedatives or barbiturates) in the month prior to entering the program.
      • Six months later, 50 percent said they had used a substance in the prior month, a 42 percent decline.
      Among comparison group members:
      • Some 71 percent said they had used a substance in the month prior to entering the program.
      • Six months later, 66 percent said they had used a substance in the prior month, a 7 percent decline.
  • Illegal drug use (heroin, cocaine, crack, marijuana and hallucinogens) in the Bodega group declined more dramatically than in the comparison group.
    • While 80 percent of La Bodega de la Familia participants were using illegal drugs when they entered the program, 42 percent were using illegal drugs six months later, a 47.5 percent decline.
    • Some 61 percent of comparison group members were using illegal drugs at intake, and 48 percent were using illegal drugs six months later, a 21 percent decline.
  • Users in the Bodega program were about half as likely to be arrested and convicted of a new offense as comparison group members, both during their participation in the program and in the following six months.
  • Families in the Bodega program were significantly more likely than the comparison family members to have their basic needs met over the study period. Family members in Bodega also showed modest improvements in their sense of social support.
  • The sharp decline in drug use among the Bodega participants appeared to be the direct result of pressure, encouragement and assistance from Bodega case managers and, especially, family members. During the study period, neither the Bodega nor the comparison group users increased their participation in drug treatment programs. Longer stays in treatment typically produce less drug use.

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LA BODEGA DE LA FAMILIA MOVES TO FAMILY JUSTICE

Findings from the evaluation demonstrated that La Familia de la Bodega reduced drug use and criminal activity and established the program as a promising evidence-based practice. Federal and state corrections officials wanted to export La Bodega's family-centered philosophy and program components to other communities and states.

In July 2001, La Bodega de la Familia moved to Family Justice, a national organization established in 2000 by Carol Shapiro, M.S.S., who created La Bodega de la Familia at Vera. La Bodega de la Familia became the direct service arm and learning laboratory of Family Justice.

Family Justice taps the natural resources of families and communities that are often underserved by criminal justice programs. Through this approach, Family Justice:

  • Provides direct services to families through La Bodega de la Familia.
  • Tests new methodologies for serving people involved with the criminal justice system.
  • Delivers training and technical assistance regarding the Bodega Model.
  • Works with government and nonprofit agencies to improve policies and enhance services that prevent or reduce involvement with the criminal justice system.

The story of Carlos, now 37, who started using heroin as a teenager and has been in and out of prisons and jails since age 18, is a good example of the importance of family and community connections…more.

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THE PROJECT: GRANT ID# 051786: PROMOTING LA BODEGA DE LA FAMILIA, EXPANDING THE SCOPE AND REACH OF FAMILY JUSTICE

From November 2004 to January 2006, staff at Family Justice designed and began to implement a strategic communications plan to promote La Bodega de la Familia and expand the scope and reach of Family Justice.

Family Justice hired Spitfire Strategies, a Washington-based communications consulting firm, to guide staff in developing a communications plan and to provide advice regarding how the plan could be implemented.

Strategic Communications Goals

An 18-month communications plan outlined four strategic communications goals, which include activities, benchmarks and timelines for each goal:

  • Re-position Family Justice from a New York City direct service organization to a national research, training and policy organization.
  • Promote Family Justice training capabilities to senior administrators in criminal justice agencies by working with criminal justice associations.
  • Promote Family Justice's policy priorities to advocacy organizations, criminal justice associations and government agencies.
  • Promote Family Justice's policy priorities and future research to elected policy-makers.

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RESULTS

Communications Tools and Systems

Family Justice and consultant staff created tools and systems to standardize communications within Family Justice and to outside audiences. For more details, see the Bibliography.

Within Family Justice:

  • Family Justice Identity Language, a document that concisely describes Family Justice's mission and philosophy. Staff uses this language in describing Family Justice in internal and external communications.
  • Family Justice Style Guide that provides guidance to staff in how to write for internal and external audiences.
  • Family Justice Dictionary that defines terms used by Family Justice (such as "evidence based practice") and provides guidance to staff in using these terms with audiences such as members of the media, caseworkers or criminal justice staff.
  • An internal system for capturing information about meetings at which a Family Justice staff member is speaking.

Outside the agency:

  • Family Justice Overview, a fact sheet about Family Justice.
  • Frequently Asked Questions, a document addressing questions that arise when people receive outreach information about Family Justice.
  • La Bodega de la Familia Model, a written summary of the philosophy and practices behind La Bodega de la Familia.
  • Impacting Policies and Impacting Practices, two fact sheets describing Family Justice's current and past work.

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LESSONS LEARNED

  1. Assign a staff person to manage foundation grants. Family Justice did not have one person whose job it was to manage this project. Therefore, it was unable to take advantage of all the consulting help that RWJF could have provided. (Project Director)
  2. Agencies need full-time professional communications staff who will direct communications activities and help others communicate agency goals and policies. Staff at Family Justice were hard-pressed to take on the additional, specialized work of implementing the new communications plan. The Project Director wishes the agency had sought additional funds to build this in-house capacity so as to ensure a seamless transition from plan to implementation. (Project Director/Family Justice)
  3. Agency directors must help staff and trustees understand how emerging theories or promising practices may improve their own organization. If executive directors want to change their agencies to better respond to new opportunities, they must communicate well why the changes are important to the agency's mission and future. (Project Director/Family Justice)

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AFTER THE GRANT

Family Justice staff continued to implement the communications plan after the grant period, including testimony about its family-based approach to reentry after prison before a House subcommittee in November 2005. See the Bibliography for details.

Family Justice received a subsequent grant from RWJF (ID# 055801) to develop a database of family units that will allow the organization to track families, not just individuals, throughout their involvement with Family Justice.

In 2005, the National Institute of Corrections funded Family Justice to create a family and relationship-focused questionnaire for use by corrections staff in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts and Oklahoma.

Staff uses the questionnaire to gather information about inmates' family relationships in order to reinforce positive family connections and address family challenges.

Family Justice has hired a design firm to create a standard "look" for all of its materials. It is seeking to hire a full-time communications associate to implement several aspects of the communications plan.

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Evaluating and Disseminating Strategies for Improving the Health of Families and the Recovery of Addicts

Grantee

Vera Institute of Justice (New York,  NY)

  • Evaluation of a Demonstration Project to Improve the Health of Families and the Recovery of Addicts
    Amount: $ 115,924
    Dates: August 1998 to July 2001
    ID#:  034537

Contact

Carol Shapiro, M.S.S.
(212) 475-1500
cshapiro@familyjustice.org

Grantee

Family Justice (New York,  NY)

  • Strategic Communications Project to Improve the Health of Families and the Recovery of Addicts
    Amount: $ 75,000
    Dates: November 2004 to January 2006
    ID#:  051786

Contact

Carol Shapiro, M.S.S.
(212) 475-1500
cshapiro@familyjustice.org

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APPENDICES


Appendix 1

(Current as of the time of the grant; provided by the grantee organization; not verified by RWJF.)

La Bodega de la Familia Evaluation Advisory Board

Michael B. Greene, Ph.D.
Director of Research and Evaluation
Hunter College Center on AIDS, Drugs and Community Health
New York, N.Y.

Peter J. Guarnaccia, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Human Ecology
Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research
Rutgers University
New Brunswick, N.J.

Bruce G. Link, Ph.D.
Professor, Columbia University School of Public Health and
Research Scientist, New York State Psychiatric Institute
New York, N.Y.

Orlando Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Chair, Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Fordham University
New York, N.Y.

Susan A. Wilt, Dr.P.H.
Assistant Commissioner
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
New York, N.Y.


Appendix 2

(Current as of the time of the grant; provided by the grantee organization; not verified by RWJF.)

The Bodega Model: ''He's got all of us.''

Carlos, now 37, started using heroin as a teenager and has been in and out of prisons and jails since age 18.

Even before Carlos' most recent release, a family case manager with La Bodega de la Familia and Carlos' parole officer made a family visit, where they met Carlos' grandmother, 14-year-old daughter and younger brother. The visit revealed not only the family's concerns about Carlos' imminent release, but also the web of relationships that could — with some help — provide critical support to Carlos and his family.

After Carlos' release, the team met in the first of many family case management meetings at La Bodega. Together they drew up a family action plan that addressed Carlos' reentry and drug treatment needs, as well as the needs of each family member. For months, the family action plan guided their lives.

After some time, Carlos relapsed, and his grandmother reached out to La Bodega for help. An emergency family case management meeting was called. Carlos volunteered to go into short-term detox, and the whole family was able to address other important issues that had been causing family stress. La Bodega staff made referrals to needed social services.

At a recent meeting, Carlos' parole officer marveled at the changes: "I'm really proud of us. I never thought I would see the day when Carlos would call me when he thought of using drugs again. Jail is not his only alternative. He's got all of us."

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

Reports

Families as a Resource in Recovery from Drug Abuse: An Evaluation of La Bodega de la Familia. New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 2002. Also available online.

Communications Plan. Washington: Spitfire Strategies, 2005.

Family Justice Bodega Methodology. New York: Family Justice, 2006.

Family Justice Dictionary. New York: Family Justice, 2006.

Family Justice Identity Language. New York: Family Justice, 2006.

Family Justice Overview. New York: Family Justice, 2006.

Impacting Policy. New York: Family Justice, 2006.

Impacting Practice. New York: Family Justice, 2006.

Presentations and Testimony

Carol Shapiro, "In Support of H.R. 1704, Second Chance Act of 2005: Community Safety Through Recidivism Prevention," to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security of the House Judiciary Committee, November 3, 2005, Washington. Written request from committee chair, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., November 1, 2005.

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Report prepared by: Mary Nakashian
Reviewed by: Kelsey Menehan
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Dwayne C. Proctor

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