If I had a symbol for re-entry triage, I'd use it. But I don't, so the medical symbol (what most people think of when they hear the word "triage") will have to do. It refers to assigning degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order of treatment of a large number of patients or casualties.
Now think of this concept in a social vs medical context. More specifically, as a way of determining what services people need as they leave one situation and enter another - for example, leaving prison/re-entering society or coming off the street/entering a homeless program.
But of course, there's no assurance that any triage procedure will take place when it comes to leaving prison or coming off the street. Furthermore, there may be antiquated or partial systems in place, that continue to be used month in and month out, regardless of effectiveness.
Here's a simple three step triage procedure I have used and instituted. It places people in one of three categories:
Those that can help themselves
Determine what support they'll need, do your best to get it to them, then GET OUT OF THEIR WAY so they can do it.
Those that cannot help themselves
Don't ignore the obvious, don't pretend your program can do things it can't, don't dump on another program. If someone is physically, mentally, or chemically compromised and NOT able to function independently, then find the resources needed and refer them. NOTE: I get it, this is hard because the resources aren't there, the referral process doesn't work, etc. I know. But don't make the problem worse by ignoring, pretending, or passing them on. Find a way.
Programs exist around this group. It's the largest, typically comprised of 50-70% of any total triage population. These people don't easily fit into either of the others, consequently, knowing what they need takes time and work. Plan for it.
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This simple triage approach has two objectives. First to determine what each individual needs and second to get everyone moving forward as quickly as possible - especially those capable of helping themselves with a minimal amount of program involvement.
But moving forward to what? The goal should always be independence and self sufficiency. And of course, not everyone will get there or be capable of getting there. However this goal must not be assumed. Fact is, there's no societal commitment to success in the US, even at the margins of basic self sufficiency. There are just too many competing agendas, philosophies, and points of view; silo programs that don't play well with others; funding requirements, restrictions, and mandates; and entire industries with vested interests in the status quo or worse.
"Help" should always mean helping people to help themselves whenever possible. A simple triage system can do just that AND provide a model where resources are apportioned based on actual client needs and NOT program desires.