Our integrated post-release support program offers help in three key areas: education, employment, and mental health/social services.
During their first day in the office, GOSO enrollees meet with a Career Manager to complete a resume, discuss short- and long-term reentry goals, and receive a full mental health evaluation and assistance with immediate social service needs. They also receive a Reentry Toolkit that includes an alarm clock, day planner, notepad and pens, MetroCard and subway map.
Every GOSO participant is assigned a Career Manager who who provides education and employment counseling, tracks his progress through the program and oversees delivery of services. In addition, Career Managers provide housing support and referrals, and assistance with IDs, Driver’s Licenses, Medicaid and Food Stamp registration. All GOSO Career Managers are Master’s Level Social Workers who on a day-to-day basis provide participants opportunities to explore positive and constructive ways of coping with the challenges of education, employment, family and peers.
GOSO is now the only reentry program in the city that exclusively employs Master’s Level mental health professionals as Career/Case Managers.
Career Managers work one-on-one with participants to evaluate their degree of job readiness, and help them research job prospects, submit online job applications, and prepare cover letters and resumes. Clients have unlimited access to computers, fax machines and phones, and receive MetroCards, appropriate clothing and haircuts for job interviews.
Our mentoring program carefully matches participants with trained volunteer mentors who share their interests and experiences. Mentors can provide the empathy, guidance and support participants need as they take on the many challenges of reentry. Mentor/mentees meet twice a month for a minimum of six months.
Many GOSO participants seek entry-level positions in the construction and warehousing industries, jobs that often require an OSHA 10-Hour Construction Training Completion Card (OSHA-10). GOSO offers the OSHA-10 Training Course in our East Harlem classroom. The course introduces students to OSHA policies, procedures and standards, as well as general industry safety and health principles, with special emphasis on areas most hazardous to workers. The class is held three times a year.
All participants who complete the GOSO GPS to Success are eligible for our paid internship program, GOSO Works. Twelve-week internships provide hands-on job experience in a participant’s area of career interest and a small living stipend while he works. Our Project Director for the program, Geoffrey Golia, works directly with internship providers to ensure that participants have a challenging work experience, opportunities to learn new job skills, adequate supervision, and professional mentorship.
Career Managers assist participants in applying for high school equivalency (HSE) classes, college, or vocational schools, and monitor their attendance and performance after they enroll. GOSO pays application fees, provides MetroCards for transportation, and covers the cost of books. GOSO volunteers provide tutoring to participants at all educational levels.
GOSO’s highly qualified staff provide onsite individual and group supportive counseling, as well as family and crisis couseling, and often intervene at critical moments for our participants when bad decision-making can have catastrophic results. In addition to our MSW Career Managers, GOSO recruits three Social Work Interns each year from the Columbia U. and N.Y.U. graduate schools of social work who meet with participants both on Rikers Island and in the East Harlem facility. We also provide psychiatric evaluations and counseling, and referrals to offsite mental health and substance abuse programs.
In collaboration with the DOE, GOSO has established a high school equivalency program at our East Harlem offices. Our P2G class makes education more accessible to our participants, and staff members are always available to support our students’ efforts. Students receive breakfast, lunch and MetroCards for transportation to and from class.
The GOSO Education Coordinator works one-on-one with participants with an interest in attending college to help them apply for Federal aid and fill out college applications. For students attending our P2G Class, a College Counselor from the Department of Education also provides guidance and assistance for college bound students.
To keep our P2G students engaged and working toward their diplomas during the summer months, GOSO offers summer school classes during July and August. Classes meet from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm, Monday–Thursday and focus intensively on math, which we have found to be the most challenging subject for our students. We also provide our students breakfast, lunch and MetroCards for transportation.
Year-round financial advice and tax services are provided on request by a GOSO volunteer with many years of experience in tax preparations and financial advising.
GOSO also now offers a 3-day Security Training Class that includes 8- and 16-hour security training and fireguard preparation, and qualifies participants for a NY State Security License. We also cover the cost of a NY State Drivers License Pre-Licensing Training Course as well as costs associated with testing for and acquiring a drivers license. In addition, GOSO offers OSHA and Scaffolding/Flaggers certificate training courses. Our Career Managers work one-on-one with participants to identify training opportunities throughout the city that can improve their employability and open up new career opportunities. Whenever possible, we supplement the cost of training and testing.