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Community Linkage Program

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.

Vision, Mission and Goals
Vision Statement
The OhioMHAS Community Linkage Program strives to aid all offenders with severe and persistent mental illness in their mental health recovery and stability by providing high quality, holistic and timely continuity of care services upon entering and leaving prison.
Central Office Contacts
Jennifer Roach
Community Linkage Administrator
(614) 466-1325

For General Inquiries

Char Morrison
(614)752-8051

Mission Statement
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.

Goals

  • Provide continuity of mental health care for offenders entering or leaving an ODRC prison who are identified with serious and persistent mental illness (SPMI).
  • Provide continuity of mental health care for youthful offenders entering or leaving an ODYS facility who are identified as being on the mental health caseload.
  • Reduce recidivism of persons with mental illness who are involved in the criminal justice system.
  • Reduce de-compensation rates of released offenders to increase chances at recovery and successful reintegration.
  • Facilitate problem solving between the corrections and mental health systems and offenders related to accessing community mental health services.
  • Enhance public safety by arranging post-release mental health services, recovery supports and benefits.
OhioMHAS Prison Pre-Release Project
In 2010, OhioMHAS and ODRC identified a need for offenders with a severe and persistent mental illness to be able to apply for SSI/SSDI prior to release. For individuals with a mental illness being released from a correctional facility, having a source of income upon release is a stabilizing factor. Offenders not only have access to funds to pay for food, clothing, and shelter but they also have Medicaid to pay for mental health appointments and medications. The screening criteria for this program are very detailed. Anyone not eligible for this specific project is eligible to apply for SSI/SSDI at any local SSA office or through the Expedited SSI project at participating community mental health agencies. One important component of any SSI/SSDI project is for participants to understand that they may work while receiving benefits. Please click here to learn more about employment and benefits planning.
OhioMHAS ODYS Pre-Release Pilot
Beginning in May 2013, OhioMHAS and SSA will enter into a new partnership focusing on youth being released from ODYS who are at least 18 years of age who have a severe and persistent mental illness. The project will function in the same way as the adult system. The pilot location will be Indian River Juvenile Correctional Facility.

For inquiries or concerns please contact the Community Linkage Program at

614/466/1325 or E-mail: BCJDivision@mha.ohio.gov