In 2007, the Office of Women’s Health (OWH) funded several agencies across the country to conduct HIV prevention programs targeting women incarcerated and recently released. During our 3 year funding cycle of this grant our project officer convened a capacity building meeting where all of the grantees would come together to discuss our successes and challenges of our program. From that meeting we all decided that it would be great if we could have a conference focusing on the needs of women returning back into the community. From many conference calls planning and strategizing the day finally came on March 15 – 16, 2012 the Office of Women’s Health along with other federal agencies that work on incarceration issues hosted Meeting the Reentry Needs of Women: Policies, Programs, and Practices.
Meeting the Reentry Needs of Women conference was enlightening and informative. This meeting addressed on the federal level how statues for housing, food stamps, employment and financial AID for college are being lifted to so women coming back home can have access to what they need to transition successfully back into their communities. It also addressed when organizations are developing reentry programs for women they must fit the reality of women’s lives meaning there needs to be collaborations among organizations to address mental illness, substance abuse, family reunification (infants, toddlers, adolescence and adult), job readiness and expungement.
I’m excited to have been part of this conference if gives me hope to know that the federal agencies are working together to ensure women coming home will be successful in transitioning back into their communities.