The Alumni Program
The Alumni Program consists of Community Reintegration and Diversion Services for individuals exiting incarceration in Los Angeles County’s Juvenile Detention Centers.
InsideOUT Writers’ Case Management and Re-Entry Services begin with a detailed assessment of individual needs that are culturally responsive, strengths-based, healing-oriented and trauma-informed. Each Writer in the Alumni Program receives a tailored Individual Action Plan linking them to the care and services that will address their specific risks, needs, and goals. We meet our youth right where they are, asking not what’s wrong with them, but instead what has happened throughout their lives for them to land in front of us.
Once risks, needs, and goals are determined, IOW provides Intensive Case Management that empowers our youth to make informed decisions about their futures. We provide hands-on support to ensure that they can more easily access necessary resources.
Case management covers a broad range of needs and topics which includes, but is not limited to, mental health and substance use disorder treatment, legal services, education, and employment navigation strategies and tools to cope and deal with healing and trauma. We also support our students as they procure necessary identification documents, secure housing, and achieve academic and professional success, all tailored to each youth’s specific trajectory. When needed, IOW also enlists services provided by partner organizations through a referral process, ensuring that there are no gaps in the holistic care for our Alumni.
Mental Health Care
Exiting incarceration is a delicate period in our Alumni’s lives. Consequently, InsideOUT Writers places special emphasis on caring for the whole person, not just the writer. Though we do not directly provide therapy to the youth in our program, we partner with organizations who do provide specialized, 1-to-1 counseling for the students who need it. Meanwhile, IOW conducts check-ins with the care providers and the youth receiving services to ensure progress.
The Writers Circle
In addition to the 1-to-1 counseling, InsideOUT Writers hosts The Writers Circle to encourage Alumni to continue using art and writing as an outlet for healthy expression. For many Alumni, The Writers Circle is preferable to individualized counseling because it places individuals among their peers, all of whom share the experience of having been incarcerated.
Through our Writers Circles, youth have been empowered to accept responsibility for their wrongs, embrace and appreciate their journey and who they are today, and prepare for a future that is not defined by their past. Led by writing teachers that include award-winning screenwriters, professional writers, journalists, educators, artists, and social justice activists, over 1,500 Alumni participate in Writers Circles each year.
Community-Building Field Trips
After exiting incarceration, our Alumni often feel starved of healthy social and recreational activity. As part of our holistic approach to successful community reintegration, InsideOUT Writers hosts several field trips each year to foster peer-to-peer support and build lasting relationships through positive interactions with fellow IOW Alumni. Past field trips have included Pali Mountain, the Santa Monica Pier, and many of Los Angeles County’s vibrant museums. We aim to expose our Alumni to nature, the arts, and more in a safe, supportive environment that demonstrates what Southern California has to offer them post-incarceration.
One of InsideOUT Writers’ key goals is to help our students achieve a brighter future without letting their past define them. For many youth, incarceration created a major disruption to their schooling. When our students express interest in resuming their studies, we work with them to give them the tools to complete their high school diploma, enroll in college, and/or complete their degree.
After participating in the Writing Program while incarcerated or The Writers Circle in the Alumni Program, the skills our youth develop in the IOW classroom translate well to a traditional academic setting. When youth feel more comfortable and confident participating in school, they are more likely to see it through and achieve their goals!
Gaining stable employment as a formerly incarcerated young adult can be difficult and demoralizing for individuals who are working towards a healthier future. As part of InsideOUT Writers’ Alumni Program, we counsel our youth to prepare them for the skills and etiquette they’ll need to succeed once they are hired. Concurrently, we work with a network of dedicated partner employers who hire directly from the IOW Alumni Program. After a student is placed, we conduct check-ins with both our youth and their employers to make sure the relationship is proceeding smoothly. Learn how you can hire IOW alumni here.
In some instances, InsideOUT Writers administers diversion services to youth in lieu of incarceration at the direction of law enforcement agencies or Los Angeles County’s Probation Department. Our diversion services include gang intervention, counseling, and arts programming to support at-risk individuals with the goal of preventing incarceration altogether.
As our youth transition back to life in their own communities, they often face overwhelming pressure to partake in gang activity. With the support of our youth’s families and other trusted adults, we provide counseling to deter at-risk individuals from joining local gangs. We focus on cultivating a stronger sense of self-worth in our Alumni, which in turn lowers the likelihood that they will willfully engage in behavior that may put themselves and their families in harm’s way.
Our success administering the Alumni Program hinges on maintaining the trust of the LA County Probation Department, the State of California, our community-based partner organizations, and most importantly, the people we serve.