For the 650,000 men and women who come home from prison every year, they are about to enter a new world. All of the little things we take for granted everyday will be small miracles. Whether it be 3 months or 30 years, their world is about to change drastically. In the midst of all the excitement of coming home, it’s important to be intentional to support your loved one.
Here are a few things you can do to help your loved one feel supported.
Housing – This is one of the most important things. Not only is housing a fundamental need, but housing for returning citizens can be a very complex challenge to navigate. There are many organizations that offer housing or vouchers. One of the best situations would be to have your loved one stay with family. So long as it is possible, it offers a safe place and an opportunity for accountability and growth in this new season of their life.
Technology – With the blazing fast pace that technology advances, it can be overwhelming to play catch up. Fortunately, there are many ways to help them get caught up. From free computer classes at your local library, to tech classes at your local community resource center.
Job Search – As many companies don’t like to see gaps in employment, it can be intimidating to apply for a job. One of the best ways to help your loved one prepare for a new job is to prepare. Helping your loved one with a resume and practicing interview skills are two ways to help them get ready.
Support System – As exciting as it may be, coming home from prison can be a lonely feeling. Especially in the first few months, supporting your loved one and keeping them accountable can help them feel supported and safe.
Tell Your Story – Everyone has a story to tell. The problem is many people don’t think about the way they want to tell it. Preparing your loved one to tell their story can help them prepare to share it with others. Navigating the details and determining what you want to tell others are two reasons why it’s important to think about your story before you tell others.
A Clean Slate – Many times, past debt can be a barrier to starting over. From past due bills, to child support and alimony, it can be overwhelming to start afresh. Fortunately, there are many organizations that can help your loved one remove or expunge past debts.
Family Time – This may seem obvious, but one of the best ways to help your loved one come home is to be intentional with family time. Planning family time each week is an opportunity for your family to get together and support each other.
Supporting your loved one is the best way to help your loved one safely re-enter. Take time to discuss how you can best help them feel safe and reach their re-entry goals. If possible, meet with their parole office and see how you can help them reach their re-entry goals as well.