COVID-19, Division of Adult Parole Operations

Parole agents adapt to provide services during pandemic

By DAPO staff

Continuing to fulfill the mission during a pandemic, the Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) Adult Program Unit (APU) began brainstorming ways to assist parolees during these challenging times. DAPO’s clients still required help with their criminogenic needs such as drug treatment, job training and employment, education, housing, family support services and with community resources.

Technology expands rehabilitative offerings

Parole Agent II Specialist Jennifer Swoboda learned that Southern California Region Narcotics Anonymous (NA) was partnering with Parole Service Associate (PSA) Tracee Harvey to coordinate online Zoom NA meetings. 

Agent Swoboda asked if Orange County parolees could be included in the meetings. They worked to expand the Zoom platform to include parolees from both counties and by April the meetings were up and running on a weekly basis every Tuesday morning. The meetings were so successful, about a month later the platform was expanded to include parolees from Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

With the assistance of PSAs Laura Evans, Latisha Mata and Deborah Jackson, participation increased to nearly 100 at each meeting. The meetings became so successful and so well received by parolees, that a second meeting was added. Thanks to the hard work from NA and the PSAs, there are now two meetings a week, both attended by about 100 parolees each. 

Connecting parolees with online resources

In the Antelope Valley area, PA II Specialist Brodi and PSA Jackson have continued throughout the pandemic to collaborate with the organization Olive Services, to provide online classes for parolees through the Zoom platform to help address criminogenic needs.

Some of the classes that are offered are: Parenting, Anger Management, Domestic Violence (both for victims and a class for batterers), Life Skills and Professional Development.

In addition to these online classes, Antelope Valley APU staff and staff from Olive Services have developed a monthly celebration to honor and acknowledge parolees who have overcome obstacles and who have persevered in participating in the classes. Due to the pandemic, the celebrations have been held via video conferencing and 21 parolees were honored. 

In San Diego, APU staff, with help from Parole Agent II Specialist Placencia and PSA Ellis, have collaborated with the Adult Education branch of the Sweetwater Union High School District to offer online classes to parolees to obtain a high school diploma or GED certificate. They also offer English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. 

Low cost training is offered for Building Maintenance and Repair, Certified Nursing Assistant, Drone Operator, Medical Assistant, Culinary Arts, Typing and Welding to name some. 

They are also working with the San Diego Workforce Partnership to assist parolees with funding for jobs in the field of technology and also pairing them with job mentoring and job placement.

In the Los Angeles area PSA Harvey has collaborated with the Department of Rehabilitation and the group, Career Expansions, to offer parolees online classes for the Multi-Craft Core Curriculum Construction Apprenticeship Readiness Training Program. 

This training program used to be held in person, prior to COVID-19, but has now gone online and is another example of APU staff and community partners adapting. 

Upon completing this program, successful participants receive certificates enabling them to apply for and begin careers in the Construction, Utilities, and Energy and Safety (CUES) industries. One graduate said he found a job two months after finishing the class and is now earning a substantial salary in a related field. 

Another example of the continued adaptability and flexibility of APU staff to continue to offer re-entry services for parolees at this time is the work of Parole Agent II Specialist Marquez and PSA Evans in San Bernardino County.

They have partnered with the San Bernardino Community College District to offer parolees free online training for forklift training with OSHA certification.  This program also provides participating parolees with on the job training and job placement upon completion.

In addition to all the above mentioned services, APU staff statewide continue to assist parole agents in obtaining housing for parolees upon release and other basic necessities like food from local food banks and referrals to local medical clinics to help them obtain Medi-Cal benefits if needed.

While all CDCR staff have learned to adapt in this precarious and stressful time, it is through our community partnerships and collaborations that we have been able to persist in our ability to provide necessary services to our population and we look forward to expanding our services even more in the future.