HHSA Newsroom

A 'Link' to a New Life

Published January 14, 2021


For some, being released from the justice system is an opportunity to redefine oneself. Yet, creating a new life is more achievable when there is a clearly defined path to follow. The Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency provides that guidance to help people succeed in their transition and reduce recidivism.

Three years ago, the agency embedded a Mental Health Clinician and Drug and Alcohol Counselor in the Probation Department. This clinician and counselor team screens clients for mental health and substance use challenges, then provides a warm hand off to resources, hence the name “Links.”

“When [clients] are sitting in front of us, we are looking at the future and asking them to reflect upon their life. We see them as a whole person,” says Jon Van Fossan the mental health clinician side of the duo. He and Drug and Alcohol Counselor, Tonya Clarke, triage clients and perform assessments to identify needs and make immediate referrals to progress clients toward their goals.

Tonya and Jon note that having the support of the Links Program prevents feelings of abandonment upon release from incarceration. Clients can feel intimidated by the program at first, but then they are surprised when they aren’t labeled or put down. This welcoming approach is key in building trust and rapport with clients and sets the stage for them to successfully work with a probation officer.

“We respect everyone’s rights. It’s not about consequences here. We want clients to be successful and make sure they have all their supports. When someone finds themselves in a position where they are stuck, the door is still open,” says Jon.

After triage, the Links team quickly helps clients apply for Medi-Cal benefits, which used to be one of the biggest obstacles in receiving mental health care or substance use treatment. The process has become much more streamlined with the launch of the Wellness and Recovery program, formerly called the Drug-Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System. In addition, the team can coordinate resources for housing, legal services, college, clothing and more.

Tonya and Jon can be found at the Community Corrections Center at 1421 Court Street in Redding. Call (530) 229-8000 to get connected.

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