RELINK is a St. Louis Integrated Health Network (IHN) initiative that combines one-on-one support with referrals to committed community partners in health, mental health, housing, employment, and education. The Evaluation Center has partnered with the RELINK initiative since 2016.
IHN and the Evaluation Center recognized the need to share the progress and effectiveness of the RELINK program, provide lessons learned, and demonstrate accountability with stakeholders.
The Coming Home for Good report did just that. It visualized the process RELINK clients experience when navigating health and social services with help from Community Health Workers. It also highlighted clients’ outcomes and their successes, supported by program data. IHN used the report to inform its key stakeholder and government officials about program progress and outcomes.
In spring 2019, IHN had the opportunity to share Coming Home for Good with a wider audience and key decision makers when it was invited to attend a convening of the City of St. Louis Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) at the Civil Courts Building. At the time, the City of St. Louis was focusing its efforts to reform the justice system in a partnership with a national nonprofit to reduce the city’s jail population. The newly formed CJCC was eager to learn about St. Louis-based local efforts to improve the lives of justice-involved populations.
RELINK was recognized for its phenomenal efforts improving the health outcomes for young adults re-entering their communities after spending time in jail. Mikel Whittier, Strategist of Justice and Health Equity at IHN, presented Coming Home for Good and was able to describe the client demographics, highlight the barriers faced by RELINK clients, describe key findings from each stage of services, key successes, and summarize the lessons learned.
“We have a responsibility to improve systems in our region. People are suffering. Although we did not create these problems, we are accountable to improving them,” says Mikel Whittier.
“We must do this through evidence, collaboration, and persistence. RELINK and the evaluation conducted by the Evaluation Center are examples for how we gather information to create better systemic solutions and individual level interventions simultaneously.”