THE LONDER CENTER AND ITS PARTNERS
Cindy Stadel reports that most offenders at the Londer Center say they began using drugs and alcohol at an early age and eventually developed an addiction. She says that many also sustained head injuries from drunk driving and assaults, and most have underdeveloped literacy and social skills. Because offenders often continue to struggle with alcohol and drug dependency when released from jail or prison, Stadel and her staff have cultivated relationships with a variety of treatment organizations. Literacy and treatment staff have worked together to establish joint referral processes, coordinate schedules, and share professional development. They attend each other's staff meetings, and treatment center counselors have an open invitation to attend Londer's GED graduation ceremonies.
Londer staff feel that working with the treatment agencies creates a more holistic approach to helping clients reach their goals. For example, treatment center counselors can inform Londer instructors if they notice that a student needs to work on a specific area. In turn, instructors can call counselors if a student does not come to class or if they are having a problem with a particular student.
Treatment counselors also see the benefits of partnerships. For example, the Londer Center works with the Women's Residential Program, a drug abuse treatment program run by Volunteers of America (VOA). According to program director Felicia Otis, 80 percent of her clients have less than a tenth-grade education, and 65 percent have less than an eighth-grade education. Before working with Londer, VOA had to rely on volunteers for literacy instruction. They found that, though dedicated, volunteers generally did not have the skills needed to help clients reach their educational goals. Additionally, volunteer instructors tended to focus on preparation for the GED test, and few resources were available for those at lower levels of literacy.
As a result of the collaboration with the Londer Center, the women in VOA's program are now formally assessed and there is a more formal fit between their needs and instruction. Otis says, "Some clients have left because the fear of writing and reading was so daunting. The biggest thing is to get help, not only from the Londer Center, but from each other. The Londer Center has become an integral part of how we provide services for clients. I don't know that we would get the same results the old way [with volunteers]."