Get With The Program: The Program, “It’s About Change.”

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The Program, “It’s About Change,” once known only as The Program for Female Offenders of South Central Pa., has been a guiding light and resource center for female ex-offenders after incarceration.

Since 1979, this nonprofit agency has been recognized for its work in job search and workforce development, life-skills training and mentor support. Most recently, under the leadership of CEO AliceAnne Frost, The Program is fortifying its mission to support women. AliceAnne has renewed the agency with a strong sense of direction, but understands the difficulties ahead. Also serving as York City Controller, she is familiar with the need to match South Central Pa. citizens with available resources. From The Program, “It’s About Change,” she will combine the agency’s history with a fresh perspective on several recidivism prevention strategies, including Family Reunification.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the female jail population has been the fastest growing correctional population, increasing by an average annual rate of 3.4 percent since 2010. Despite the stats, most reentry programs are primarily designed to meet the needs of male ex-offenders; generally addressing the needs of women by extension. The Program specifically works to mitigate the obstacles facing women and women’s issues post incarceration.

Aside from the need to meet basic requirements like finding a job, getting a home plan or staying clean, women are at higher risk for both opioid use and mental health problems. Beyond that, since 7 in 10 incarcerated women are mothers, they tend to focus on reestablishing family life after an incarceration. The Program’s reentry services, especially Family Reunification, works to meet these needs in and around Harrisburg City.

The Family Reunification Program includes components such as: cognitive behavioral parenting classes, playtime for mothers/children (overseen by a licensed therapist), and meals families can easily prepare as a unit. The combination of activities has shown to help mend familial bonds necessary, not only in preventing recidivism in mothers, but assuaging potential patterns of criminality in children. AliceAnne is determined to expand reunification by drawing in much needed funding and community support.

In addition to Family Reunification, AliceAnne strategizes to expand all agency services by aligning The Program with serious, mission-driven, collaborative agencies and identifying diverse means of financial support.

“We want to serve as many women as possible,” says AliceAnne. “With the right funding, we can expand our programs and services. Not enough families are receiving the help they need.”

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