ActionAIDS’ Prison Linkage Program was one of five programs selected nationally for a grant from AIDS United’s Access to Care initiative. The grant is valued at $193,000 per year and will be in place for three years.
This marks the largest grant the agency has ever received for its prison program. The funding will support a new care model that is expected to enable program staffers to work more closely with each client.
The Prison Linkage Program allows ActionAIDS case workers to connect with the HIV-positive prison population and ensure proper access to medical care and other resources upon their release
The funding is made possible by a grant from the Social Innovation Fund. The other awardees are headquartered in Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana and California.
The grantees were selected in part for the innovation of their programs.
The ActionAIDS funding will allow for the implementation of “care coaches” in the program, rather than medical case managers, said executive director Kevin Burns.
The new model will not call for new hires but rather training for current PLP staffers to prepare them to take on the “care coach” role.
“The thing that will be different is that they will have smaller case loads and more intense work with the clients,” Burns said. “The concept of a care coach really requires expertise around mental health and addiction. The care coaches will be working with the clients to do nontraditional interventions when they see things happen, whether it’s a mental-health or addiction issue; when something comes up in the moment, the care coaches will be able to do intervention to get people to deal with a whole range of issues.”
The funding goes into effect Jan. 1, and the four-month training will begin in the new year. About $57,000 of the grant is allocated to the training process.
Burns said PLP was previously supported by a joint grant with Philadelphia FIGHT from the Special Projects of National Significance, which ended earlier this year.
“We’ve really been trying to hang on and try to find funding and we’ve been carrying this program for a few months,” Burns said. “So this is a great opportunity.”
Burns said the grant was even more appreciated considering how few agencies were chosen.
“It was a very competitive process. There were only five programs in the entire country selected for this, so we’re very excited and very proud that they chose to invest in us.”
AIDS United vice president Vignetta Charles said in a statement that the five grantees are offering nontraditional means to attack the epidemic.
“To end HIV in the United States, we must be vigilant about linking people living with HIV/AIDS in our most impacted populations to the care that they need,” Charles said. “We now know that access to quality HIV care not only leads to better individual health outcomes but also helps prevent the spread of the virus within communities. We are thrilled that funding from Social Innovation Fund allows us to support these new projects to overcome barriers to HIV care in some of our nation’s most severely affected populations, including people who are formerly incarcerated, people who are homeless and people who are living with HIV in the U.S. South.”