In the Spotlight: Safer Foundation Reduces Recidivism Rate in Illinois by Half
Date:  02-20-2015

For 43 years Safer has provided those with a criminal history a second chance
Headquartered in Chicago, the Safer Foundation is one of the largest and well known non-profits whose mission is to eliminate barriers for those having a criminal record. In its 43 years of existence the Safer Foundation has expanded its services to meet the growing needs of its clients. Today it includes a Public Policy and Advocacy Program that reaches beyond its clients to help Illinois create and implement policies that will aid people throughout the state in becoming productive citizens. Safer was a leading advocate for the Ban the Box Initiative in Illinois.

The Safer Foundation believes that employment is one of the most significant pathways to successful reentry into the community. The Safer Foundation has worked diligently to provide formerly incarcerated people, and others with a criminal past, with the tools they need to succeed. Safer is the only non-profit that is tasked with handling adult transition centers for the Illinois Department of Corrections.

In a study conducted by Loyola University in 2011, clients of the Safer Foundation had a recidivism rate of 24.3 percent compared to the IDOC rate of 47 percent. Clients that were employed for at least 30 days had an even lower recidivism rate of 17.5 percent. Read more. Components of the Safer Foundation program, as appearing on the Safer website, include:

  • Orientation, Intake and Retention: When clients first enter Safer Foundation’s program, they go through a group orientation and intake session. During the session, they complete a pair of assessments that help identify barriers to employment (financial, emotional, physical, training, education, etc.), as well as potential skills or interests that could direct the job-search process. Intake specialists make sure clients understand the time, effort, and commitment it takes to get their lives back of track.

  • Support Services: Clients in need of or mandated to access specific treatment, such as programs for substance abuse, anger management, or other mental health services, are directed to Safer’s Supportive Services. Clients must successfully complete the required assessments before they can begin the Employment and Retention process and job-readiness training.

  • Employment and Retention Services: With the help of Safer case managers, clients begin the task of obtaining and maintaining employment upon re-entry. The majority of clients are referred to a job-readiness program, where they learn how to fill out an employment application, develop a resume, and prepare for an interview-including how to appropriate respond to questions about their background. They also learn networking skills and workplace etiquette. Meanwhile, Safer Sector Managers are cultivating relationships with prospective employers.

  • Financial Opportunity Center (FOC): Safer offers clients with criminal records and their families assistance in achieving economic stability, including help growing their personal assets. The FOC provides financial counseling, sound financial principles, and debt-reduction assistance.

    Recognizing that many of their clients are ill-equipped to find gainful employment due to lack of education and a work history, Safer also provides the following services:

  • Education: GED Programming, Job Readiness: A key component to Safer’s programming is its weekly job readiness class. Many of Safer’s clients lack the skills necessary to be competitive on the job market. These skills include interviewing, workplace etiquette, and the ability to appropriately address their backgrounds. This educational model encourages clients to network with each other and their instructors to search for and obtain employment

  • PACE Institute: As a division of the Safer Foundation Educational Services Department, the PACE Institute provides adult literacy and High School Equivalency preparation to Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDOC) detainees who voluntary request to improve upon their educational level.

  • Youth Education Program: Safer Foundation provides court-involved youth16 to 21 the academic tools and job readiness training needed to succeed and become productive members of society

    To learn more about the Safer Foundation click here.