Joe’s story is a good illustration of what care coordination work can do for someone who is trying to start anew. After being released on parole, Joe connected with Katie, his Free Through Recovery care coordinator. They started working together on a plan. Within a few weeks of his release, he had a job and was able to secure an apartment. He got involved in Celebrate Recovery and has been actively working to rebuild his connections to his family, including efforts to re-connect with his daughters. Walking with him every step of the way, Katie was able to help him find donated furniture, apply for Medicaid, figure out a plan for how to get to and from work when he didn’t have reliable transportation, pursue and ultimately get a better paying job, and start thinking about his future. He wants to be a Peer Support Specialist or somehow find a way to help people in recovery. He is thinking about furthering his education -- about what he wants to do next. He is thinking about the future. And he’s ready to discharge from Free Through Recovery, after only six months.
Not every story is a “success” story like Joe’s but, what we know is that the path to recovery can be long and winding, and that persisting through setbacks is what it takes to do this work. In our experience, having the permission to persist through setbacks with someone who is struggling is, in fact, one of the things that makes this programmatic model so different.
The opportunity presented in SB2029, to take the Free Through Recovery model and make it available to people who are not engaged with the criminal justice system but who are struggling with a mental health issue and/or addiction, will have a powerful impact on hundreds of North Dakota families who are struggling to make a better life for themselves.
This model, applied to a broader population, could support the state’s efforts to transform the child welfare system, through the Family First Prevention Services Act. Care Coordinators and Peer Support Specialists could provide home- and community-based behavioral health supports for families who are at risk of having children removed from their home to a foster care placement because of parent(s)’ issues with mental health and/or addiction.