Aftercare is following up with ex-inmates as they re-enter society after incarceration. In-prison participants are informed of the aftercare options, so they know there is spiritual support for them waiting on the outside.
There are several levels of Aftercare that Area Councils support:
- Basic: An Aftercare group is formed and supported in the community that is basically a Yokefellow small group discussion. This is manned by Yokefellow volunteers and attended by returning citizens. People receive ongoing spiritual encouragement and guidance. To start this phase of Aftercare, all an Area Council really needs is several trained Yokefellow volunteers, a place to meet, and a way to communicate the group meetings to the people that need it.It is also advised that the Area Council representative meet with area prison Wardens and discuss this stage with them.
- Mentoring: Add the strength of one on one mentoring to the Basic level. If a person is a regular in-prison participant, they are offered a match with a person (mentor) 3 to 6 months before release into the community. These 2 people meet at the prison on a weekly basis. The mentor picks the returning citizen up at the prison facility upon release from jail. The 2 keep meeting at least once a week to encourage Godly, clean living. They both attend the group Yokefellow sessions described above. The volunteer also attends regular “facilitator” meetings when mentors continue their training and share encouragement and support.Training for this mentoring can be built on to the popular “Stephen Ministry” program training. Add the Yokefellow Prison Ministry training to the Stephen Ministry training so that listening and prison rules are coveredThere is also a very good video and print training course available from St. James Episcopal Church, Potomac, Maryland.
- Advanced: After running the first 2 phases for some time, an Area Council should try to involve area churches with Aftercare. A church can be matched to a returning citizen who has participated in Yokefellow In-Prison sessions and has received pre-release Aftercare mentoring. 3 people from the church meet and partner the ex-con upon release. 1 person focuses on spiritual mentoring, 1 on transportation needs, 1 on employment needs and 1 on employmentThis plan helps integrate an ex-con into a church family where their needs are being addressed and follow up is being doneThis phase has the best chance of success for the ex-inmate of the three.