Programs & Services for Justice-Involved WomeN
Vermont Works for Women (VWW) provides a continuum of employment and career services for women who have a history with or are currently involved with the justice system. Since 2001, VWW has partnered with the Vermont Department of Corrections (DOC) to provide work-readiness services.
Women can begin accessing our career resource center and personalized career coaching while incarcerated at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility (CRCF) in South Burlington, VT. During this time, our staff work with women to develop a re-entry plan for after their release. Post release, VWW continues to support women with integrating into their community by navigating the job search process, problem solving obstacles and accessing supports.
Our programs and services focus on helping women build skills (interpersonal, organizational and technical), set goals, develop a plan, and launch that plan, overcoming obstacles along the way.
In 2019, Vermont Works for Women served 230 women, with VWW Program Manager Heather Newcomb providing individual coaching to 42 women at the facility. In 2020, VWW is providing coaching in and out of the facility, and has been able to expand our community re-entry support from Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties into Rutland and Windham counties as well due to funding from the CARES Act. The funding for the two regional re-entry support specialist positions is temporary, ending in December 2020.
VWW takes a gender and trauma-responsive approach to our programs and services to meet the needs of justice-involved women.
In Vermont, 90 percent of justice-involved women have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse. Women also have different physical health needs, including reproductive healthcare, management of menopause, nutrition, and very often treatment for substance use disorders.
Most women in prison (62%) are mothers of minor children and are more likely than fathers in prison to be the primary caretakers of their children. Women also experience more housing instability, have lower rates of employment, and earn less than men, driving a need for greater re-entry support and wrap around services.
Women’s state prison populations have grown exponentially since the 1970s, largely due to low-level drug offenses. As of July 2020, women made up 6% (86 individuals) of the incarcerated population in Vermont. Of the women who are incarcerated past their minimum release dates, 20 percent are still at CRCF due to a lack of approved housing.
Over the past 2 years, the state has lost 60 beds worth of transitional housing for women leaving incarceration. Most recently, a transitional house in Rutland is no longer taking new admissions. The loss of these DOC-funded transitional houses leaves women incarcerated long past their minimum release eligibility date, extending the separation from family, support, and community connection.
From Our Women
It motivates me to strive towards following my heart even if I may not have the average level of education in one particular area.
I can be confident about finding a job and continue furthering my job even with a record.