Monday, February 21, 2011

STEP Moves People Out of Addiction, Homelessness

Homeless substance abusers in Sussex County are improving their quality of life thanks to STEP (Support, Treatment, Education, and Prevention), Brandywine’s outpatient program in southern Delaware.

135 homeless individuals have entered STEP since the program started up in late 2009. 93% of them are drug free after 6 months. 55% have found affordable housing, and 63% have improved their employment status or received entitlements. All STEP clients receive case management, substance abuse treatment, a mental health evaluation, health care services, and education on disease prevention.

The clinicians of STEP work resourcefully in the community to help their clients find housing and jobs. A case manager visits area shelters to meet with residents, answer questions, and run educational groups. A vocational specialist helps clients write their resume, links them to community resources, and takes them out in the community to help them find employment.

There are many success stories. One client, diagnosed with schizophrenia, has decreased her hospital stays and substance use to the point where she is ready to live on her own. Others have gone back to get their GED and enroll in college. Another client came to us having nearly lost everything, including custody of her daughter, as a result of her addiction. Today she is celebrating 9 months clean and sober, has a job, her child is back home with her, and she is finishing her Associates degree with a 4.0 GPA!

We’re also excited about our new partnership with the TAP FAITH group, which stands for Talented Address-less People for Affordable Innovative Transitional Housing. The group meets at a church in Georgetown every week and is composed of community leaders throughout Sussex County, and individuals who are currently homeless. TAP FAITH helps the homeless clients of STEP by coming together to brainstorm options for them to be housed that day.

At a recent TAP FAITH meeting, a woman came to the meeting who was homeless and had no funds. Immediately, members began to come up with options. One member gave his phone to the woman to call the Crisis House. She was not able to reach them, so he told her he would transport her there after the meeting to see if a bed was available. The church pastor then told her, if she could not get admitted to the Crisis House, to get a denial slip which would give her access to stay in the church’s emergency shelter for the night.

TAP FAITH is an excellent group that has grown from 6 members to 20 in months, and is still growing, all for the sole purpose of helping our homeless population. It is an exciting group and a great opportunity for BCCS and our clients to be involved in.

STEP is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, and by the Delaware Health Fund. For more information about STEP, please call 302-856-4700.

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