The Jefferson County Department of Health has given a grant of more than $1.1 million to the Offender Alumni Association to start a Hospital-linked Violence Intervention Program.
The award is provided through the JCDH Public Health Advised Fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. This funding is for a one-year pilot, but additional funding could be available for subsequent years if the pilot is successful. The county health department intends to continue providing funding for subsequent years, subject to annual budget approvals and grant approvals. Additionally, the city of Birmingham made a commitment of expansion funding for years 2 and 3 of the program.
The OAA will hire, support and manage violence intervention specialists to assist in the delivery of case management services, including meeting with survivors of gun violence in the hospital, providing connections to social, medical and mental health services and monitoring survivors’ progress over time.
OAA will also be responsible for hiring a full-time violence intervention supervisor and a full-time licensed social worker/social services specialist to provide program management and to direct client assessment and intervention planning.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital will be the pilot facility for the program. The UAB Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery will identify and refer consenting patients who have survived violent injury from gunshot to the HVIP while the patient is still in the hospital.
The Health Alliance for Violence Intervention was brought in by the health department to assist local stakeholders with planning of the HVIP. The HAVI will continue to provide training and technical assistance to OAA and its new HVIP staff as the program is developed and implemented.
The objectives of the HVIP are to reduce subsequent acts of violence involving the clients, improve client health outcomes, and enhance client educational attainment, employability and employment status. The program design includes data collection and evaluation to determine how well these objectives are being met.
The Offender Alumni Association’s founding mission is to create a network of former offenders who inspire each other to reduce recidivism, develop healthy relationships within their communities, and provide opportunities for social, economic and civic empowerment.
“OAA is honored, humbled and grateful for this opportunity to partner with JCDH, UAB Hospital, the City of Birmingham and others to be part of the solution to interrupt violence in our communities,” said Deborah Daniels, OAA’s founder and executive director. “OAA is ready to be there in real time as individuals are being victimized, to be a source of comfort as well as a resource to help them move past the pain, the hurt and the trauma of violence. OAA’s vision has always been to ‘Reduce Crime and Restore our Communities.’ All of us – our government officials, community stakeholders, partners and neighbors – have lots of work to do to make our neighborhoods safer, and places where our children have an opportunity to thrive.”
Dr. Mark Wilson, Jefferson County Health Officer, commented, “Numerous partners and community stakeholders collaborated to explore various evidence-based strategies for addressing violence as a public health crisis in Jefferson County. The HVIP was determined to be a good fit for our community. We are glad to get to this step in the process, and we look forward to taking the next steps with OAA as our partner.”