Ex-Offenders Assistance Scheme (EAS)
Formerly known as CRAFS (Client Reintegration And Family Services), the change in name reflects our focus on aftercare support for both the discharged offender and his/her family and a shift away from incare support. Currently, there is a recent Prisons initiative the Family Resource Center (FRC). The FRC will handle all family related cases for the inmates such as Information & Referral, Family Support, Family Focused Programs, during the incare phase. In brief, all aspects of “in prison care” will be taken care of by the FRC. Thus with the introduction of the FRC, the line between “incare” and “aftercare ” is clearly demarcated. Accordingly, the name EAS reflects this change.
Issues relating to aftercare (i.e. after release) will be taken care of by SACA under EAS. FRCs would also be referring long term cases that require additional assistance to SACA, either prior to or after the offender has been released.
In essence, EAS will cater to all discharged offenders currently in institutions where the Case Management Framework Programme (CMFP) is not available. Due to various factors, CMFP is currently offered in 7 of the 13 institutions. The discharged offenders from the 6 institutions not offering CMFP currently have no programme catering to their aftercare needs.
EAS services may be broadly categorized into the following groups, on the basis of the clients served:
- Services accorded to walk-in and call-in clients
- Services proffered to clients referred from Prisons
- Services proffered to clients referred by FRCs
In the pipeline are plans to expand services to complement the outreach efforts by SCORE to secure employment and make available skills acquisition programs for the clients prior to their release from their term of incarceration.
EAS helps facilitate the availability of information and assistance to families who require its services. Oftentimes, families in need are unaware of the external resources available, or are unwilling to utilise them owing to the fear of social stigmatisation.
Individual & Family Counselling
It is noteworthy that key problems faced by the families specifically relate to rehabilitation issues, which other organizations may not be sufficiently able to address, to provide the means of assistance required. For example, the process of adjustment that the ex-offender and his family need to face in the period following his release is a case in point. The ex-offender, who had been separated from his family and environment during the term of incarceration, has now to deal with the changes that have occurred through the period of his absence from his home and family. Concurrently, the family too has to reintegrate him into their routine, which has acquired a pace of its own in the latter’s absence. To deal with the dual facets of the problem requires specialized counselling, which EAS helps provide.
The rift between availability and access to resources is a serious one, especially in the case of ex-offenders whose problems may often require immediate intervention. For example, an ex-offender may be in need of financial assistance, for sustenance or as an interim, until the availability of the first pay cheque. EAS endeavours to provide short-term financial assistance to bridge this rift.
Information & Referral
SACA is also aware of the need to tap on available community resources to ensure that there is no duplication of services. Hence cases would be referred to existing resources (e.g. FSCs, CDCs) after 6 months if required.