May 31, 2019
From Vialante Vieira, CRM, CADC 1, Transitional Housing Manager
Trauma informed care within the criminal justice system, from the view of a transitional housing manager.
In my role as the Drug Free Housing (DFH) Manager, I am afforded the opportunity to work with women, and those who identify as women, who are transitioning home from state and county correctional facilities. Most of these women have served substantial prison sentences. I know all too well the trauma these women experience — leaving loved ones and life as they know it to serve time behind the walls to enter an extremely structured and sometimes cruel environment — then when their time is served, to be released to a city that has changed substantially over the years. I’ve seen the look of confusion, uncertainty, fear, stress, and frustration on the faces of these women.
Trauma informed care (TIC) is essential in serving this population of women. As a transitional housing manager, I have adopted all six of the guiding principles of TIC. I offer a safe, drug-free environment where the women have shared housing within a structured environment. Each woman is given a choice of room and bed whenever possible. Transparency is demonstrated during the intake process when the woman is informed of the program rules both verbally and in written form. It is made very clear that this housing program is a collaboration between case manager and parole & probation officer, and that each month a progress report will be submitted to the parole & probation officer supervising the client’s case. Each woman is afforded a weekly scheduled appointment with the case manager to create goals, assess needs, problem solve, advocate, empower, and support each woman in her individual needs.
I have always done this work that we now call TIC. Understanding the trauma that comes with serving long prison sentences and the trauma of exiting prison after long periods brought about all of the procedures I follow today. My goal is to provide a clean, safe environment where each woman can acclimate herself within mainstream society, establish support in her chosen community, gain employment, find housing, build self-esteem through estimable actions, network within the program, and learn how to live a productive, law-abiding life.