By Joe Mortensen
Published 6:30 am, Sunday, March 24, 2013
This is the 14th in a series of articles on agencies that participate in the Midland County Continuum of Care.
When offenders complete their prison sentences and return to society, where do they go? What happens to them?
Ninety-five percent of the time they go back to the community from which they came. The success or failure of their re-entry depends on having their basic needs met and on developing the skills needed to make it on the outside.
Without such support, many ex-offenders soon go back to prison. According to the Pew Center on the States, 31 percent of Michigan prisoners released between 2004 and 2007 were re-incarcerated within three years.
Concern for ex-offenders’ well-being and successful rehabilitation when they return to society has prompted former law enforcement officer Rob Worsley to form Midland Community Former Offenders Advocacy and Rehabilitation (MCFOAR).
Through MCFOAR, Worsley hopes to carry on and expand the work he did for the last four and a half years as community resource specialist (CRS) with the Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative. Michigan Department of Correction’s funding for a full-time (CRS) in Midland and Bay counties was reduced to one full-time specialist for both. This greatly reduced the accessibility and availability for resources for Midland County active parolees.
Worsley, a 25-year veteran of the Midland County Sheriff’s Office, including service as jail administrator, had connected with 100 or more ex-offenders in the Midland area through the state program. Now he feels compelled to carry on the work through MCFOAR.
He describes MCFOAR, for which he serves as program director, as a “one-stop shop” for former offenders. Its mission is two-fold: reduce recidivism in Midland County and make the community safer. Worsley said that ex-offenders, both former prisoners and county jail inmates, having adjusted to the controlled setting of incarceration, come back to their communities poorly equipped to function in society. They lack coping and job skills and struggle to trust strangers.
MCFOAR addresses the errant ways of ex-offenders and provides them with tools to assist their transition into society. All ex-offenders living in Midland County are eligible for help with finding housing, food, clothing, medical and mental health referrals, employment readiness, addiction counseling and mentoring.
MCFOAR is working with The Legacy Center for Community Success to apply the concept of developmental assets to former offenders. The concept of developmental assets has been successfully implemented with adolescents to reduce delinquency and improve health outcomes for Midland County youth. A parallel approach with adults is anticipated to produce related outcomes.
Worsley has his office at 1415 Washington St.; the phone number is (989) 832-8533. He currently is working without taking a wage or benefits while he seeks funding from local foundations, a City of Midland block grant fund, and area faith-based organizations. Local agencies, including the Caregiving Network, Open Door Ministries and 1016 Recovery Network, work closely with MCFOAR.
MCFOAR operates under a 501c3 tax exemption status. Worsley welcomes inquiries from individuals and community groups.
Along with more than 20 other agencies, MCFOAR participates in the Midland County Continuum of Care, working to prevent homelessness by providing housing-related services to those who are homeless or living in substandard housing.
The Midland Continuum website is at http://continuummidland.wordpress.com