Getting a Second Chance to Make a Difference

TABS109 Staff Story

Using Telecare's Recovery-Centered Clinical System (RCCS) to address JIMH issues has been key to creating a recovery-centered environment.

Telecare’s AB Services 109 (TABS 109) reintegration program, funded by Assembly Bill 109, works with members who are released from prison. The program works to address both mental health and criminogenic needs. TABS109 uses RCCS principles to create a welcoming, inclusive, and collaborative environment where staff use techniques such as motivational interviewing and reflective listening to connect with members on what they want to get out of their time in the program. In order to connect with members on a personal level, TABS109 also employs staff with lived experience to help encourage growth and support. This combined reintegration model has been extremely successful and to prove it, TABS109 has a 20% recidivism rate compared to the state’s 59%.

“Our peer component has really helped us engage with our clientele,” said Telecare’s Los Angeles Regional Operations Director Cheryl Malinowski. “New clients will come in to our programs so guarded because they are forced to be there. Then after being in a program for a couple of months, receiving treatment, they realize that staff genuinely cares for them.”

Staff member Rayzhone Davis takes pride in helping others identify their strengths. Rayzhone found himself in and out of juvenile hall and youth prison from the age of 13 to 18, and at 23 was given a jail sentence of seven years. When he got out, Rayzhone started to turn his life around by working on his Associates Degree in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, and was referred to TABS109 from the work he did at another substance use program. Two years, two promotions, and a degree later, he is now a Substance Abuse Counseling Specialist.
“My education, past living experiences, and our philosophy of RCCS helps me encourage members to look at life differently,” he said. “Working for Telecare has given me an opportunity to be a part of an ACT program, where I get to work in the community that I was raised in. My biggest joy is helping others who have the same struggles I overcame. The work I do has allowed me to give back to my community and use my past living experiences to help others to become the best people they can be.” 

Housing Specialist Andrea Major, who also has a justice-involved past, applied to the TABS109 program to satisfy her probation terms. She found TABS109 to be a welcoming program that takes care of, believes in, and continuously prepares staff to reach their goals and move up in the organization.  

“After almost three years working at Telecare, I am more aware of my identity and where I want to go. Telecare gave me a second chance and provided an environment that has allowed me the ability to grow and advance,” she said. “Telecare is about breaking barriers, not creating them.”

AB109 Transition Training for Staff

Creating Safe Environments With Strengths-Based Approach

"What happens is that when people graduate from AB109 programs, they enter traditional mental health clinics where staff aren’t used to working with this specific population," said Marcelo Cavalheiro, Telecare Regional Operations Director for Los Angeles County.

"Due to what has been going on recently in the news, staff have been going to their supervisors with safety concerns. They have the belief that the people entering the program are dangerous, or are criminals, and that can inhibit the quality of care."

As one of Telecare’s operations leaders, Marcelo partners with David Heffron, VP of Operations, to oversee all of our programs in Los Angeles, including two AB109 programs. The number of Telecare’s AB109 slots has grown dramatically since the legislation passed in 2011, from 48 slots originally to more than 270 slots today. In Telecare’s LA AB109 programs, clients typically stay for about two years before transitioning to other programs in the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health’s Adult Systems of Care (ASOC) and Older Adult System of Care (OASOC).

“AOSC heard the concerns of their direct providers and wanted to do something to support the staff. They reached out to us to see if we could create a training for those programs and staff to help them not only feel safer personally, but also feel more comfortable and confident in their work with this population.”

David and Marcelo created a six-hour, strengths-based training, grounded in Telecare’s Recovery-Centered Clinical System (RCCS) principles. Overall, it’s a fun, engaging training that helps staff look at five key areas such as common misconceptions, day-to-day practices, maintaining a supportive recovery culture, and specific conversations that staff can have with clients that can transform recovery and staff/client relationships. The goal is to help staff see a wide variety of ways they can shift the program—and their own interactions with clients—to create a safer environment, better services, and better results.

We’ve included a brief overview of the principles. If you’re interested, you can view the full training here

Start by Challenging Misconceptions

One of the most essential steps in the training is challenging misconceptions, the most common one being that those living with a mental illness are violent and are prone to acts of violence. Although these instances are few and far between, they carry more weight when brought into the public eye. This stigma is extremely harmful to both participants and staff of mental health programs. Furthermore, these preconceived notions can influence how we interact with program members and how we design our environments, as well as create an undercurrent of prejudices and negative expectations for what we think might happen. In actuality: 

Tools for Maintaining a Recovery-Centered Environment

When working with the Justice Involved Mental Health (JIMH) population, it is important to keep in mind that they need a caring and supportive environment, not a punitive and power-over one. Marcelo and David's training, "Justice Involved Mental Health: Community Re-Entry and Recovery," recommends the following practices and program changes. 

  • Create a welcoming environment. The choices a provider makes about the use of control can convey a lot to the people who are receiving services there, which can also affect how people behave and interact. For example, an environment that has metal detectors at the door feels like a very different place than one with a reception area that’s welcoming and inviting, with someone who greets you with a handshake. A welcoming environment sets the stage for a good partnership with the client.
  • Treat members with respect and dignity. When a program promotes a collaborative verses a provider-driven approach to treatment, members can take comfort in knowing their voices are being heard, and can truly express their hopes and dreams without fear or hesitation.
  • Reconstruct their narrative. By helping members reconsider and rebuild a strong personal identity, one that goes beyond the limiting definitions of being someone who has been in jail or has a mental health need to address, programs can better support members in successfully aligning their goals and choices to move forward in their recovery. Members who transition out of correctional facilities or programming need to be treated as people who have the capacity to make good choices and achieve personal goals, instead of being treated as former inmates who do not get to have a say in their recovery.
  • Encourage mistakes. Recovery is not a simple, linear process. Relapse happens. It is extremely important for a program to have a culture that allows mistakes to happen, and lets members know that they have a place to come back to that won’t give up on them.
  • Focus on criminogenic needs. In order to successfully reduce recidivism, providers need to offer a wraparound approach that addresses both a member’s mental illness and the risk factors that can contribute to the member re-offending, and provide treatment options appropriate to the member’s risk level. 

For more information about this training, please feel free to reach out directly to David Heffron or Marcelo Cavalheiro, who can share more details and answer any questions you may have. 

ATLAS/TABS/AOT-FSP: Living Our Values

Morties Video Contest

In commemoration of our 50th Anniversary, Telecare introduced the Morties Video Contest. Categories included Living Our Values, Inspiration, and Recovery Stories. We invited all of our programs and staff to submit videos and vote for their favorite. The winning programs were showcased in our December newsletter.

Although we could only have one winner per category, we wanted to keep spreading the Morties spirit and share the other videos that were submitted. This month, we are happy to present ATLAS/TABS/AOT-FSP program's submission for the Living Our Values category.