Yolanda Morales, Senior Director of Transitional Services at The Fortune Society

Good Leadership Plus A Committed Staff Energizes Growth Of Fortune’s I-CAN Program

Monday, September 21, 2015

With the advent of the I-CAN (Individualized Correction Achievement Network) program, many thought that it was just another program with lofty goals and aspirations. Years later, however, I-CAN is still growing and it continues to impress all who may have doubted the work that I-CAN continues to put out.

At The Fortune Society, I-CAN began in 2013 with a modest staff. But as modest as the staff may have been in terms of staff numbers, the work they generated cannot be taken for granted. Before the life of the contract was up, Fortune’s I-CAN staff met its numbers two-thirds of the way into the contract proving that, with good leadership and a committed staff, the sky was truly the limit.

Here we are today – 2-1/2 years later – and our staff has more than doubled in size. We now have 10 discharge planners and seven case managers, work evenings and days in Rikers Island’s George Motchan Detention Center (GMDC), and soon this same schedule will apply in a second Rikers facility, George R. Vierno Center (GRVC).

We were the first agency to begin work in the new Enhanced Supervision Housing (ESH) unit within Rikers’ Otis Bantum Corrrectional Center (OBCC). Of note, due to the overall quality of services we provide to the participants, we were asked to open a second unit which will begin once construction is completed in the unit. Additionally, in conjunction with the New York City Department of Corrections (DOC), we had our entire staff on Rikers, and a few Long Island City-based I-CAN staff trained to conduct LS-CMI evaluations (a needs assessment tool). Where once only DOC civilian staff would conduct these evaluations on inmates entering the system, our I-CAN staff are now doing these evaluations in conjunction with DOC staff to assess more clients. This newest approach will enable I-CAN to reach more clients than ever before by evaluating more individuals for the I-CAN program.

In addition, our groups are now providing an MRT (Moral Reconation Therapy) approach to our employment group, known as Professional Start. We went from providing employment groups centered on employment preparation to a clinical type of ideology. We have not lost the employment preparation approach of the group; we just added a clinical approach which will enhance our clients’ mental preparation in hopes of helping them to deal with the rigors of obtaining and maintaining meaningful employment upon their release.

Currently, I-CAN continues to provide Relapse Prevention, Family Services, Creative Writing, and we are graduating more than 210 clients with their 10-hour OSHA certification. The expansion of I-CAN’s programming has lead us to be in nine facilities on Rikers Island providing this OSHA certification on a monthly basis which enables our clients to become more marketable upon their release.

On the horizon, I-CAN — in collaboration with the DOC on Rikers Island — will be offering several additional training certifications, such as Culinary Arts, Building Maintenance (basic carpentry), and mold removal.

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