The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) employs Community Linkage Social Worker (CLSW) staff who work with adult offenders in Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) prisons and youthful offenders at Ohio Department of Youth Services (ODYS) facilities. They provide qualifying offenders with appointments and referrals to supports that promote successful re-integration into the community after discharge, such as housing and health care services.
To promote positive community integration, the CLSWs assist qualifying offenders in applying for Social Security benefits, and when appropriate, for Medicaid benefits. OhioMHAS, in collaboration with the Social Security Administration (SSA), developed an expedited process for filing SSA applications. Offenders meeting the criteria for SSA benefits are pre-screened by ODRC staff and referred to CLSWs to assist in filling an application process. Feedback received from our community partners has been very positive regarding the expedited SSA application process. Securing these benefits facilitates an offender's return to the community by offering them financial support.and relies on collaboration among the DRC, DYS, County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health/Mental Health Boards, and community behavioral health providers.
The Community Linkage Manual provides additional information about the program scope, services and referrals that offenders receive.
The Community Linkage Program will facilitate continuity of mental health care for persons entering or leaving the prison system by assisting in policy development, sharing of information, identifying and addressing needs, monitoring outcomes, and providing problem-solving assistance. This will promote reduced recidivism rates for persons with mental illness who are leaving the prison system and reduce the number of persons incarcerated due to their illness.