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J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2013 May;24(2):435-43. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2013.0063.

Shaping the Jail Inreach Project: program evaluation as a quality improvement measure to inform programmatic decision making and improve outcomes.

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  • 1Healthcare for the Homeless–Houston (HHH), Department of Family and Community Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77098, USA.


The Jail Inreach Project was initiated in 2007 as a pilot program by Healthcare for the Homeless-Houston, an FQHC serving homeless individuals in Harris County, Texas, as a collaborative effort with the Harris County Sheriff's Office and the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County. It addresses the disproportionate number of homeless individuals with behavioral health diagnoses cycling through the Harris County Jail without provisions for continuity of care. Throughout the years, several evaluations have been conducted to inform programmatic planning and assess the success of the program on affecting patterns of recidivism of mentally ill homeless clients being served. Findings reinforce the importance of linking releasees to services immediately upon release as a measure for breaking the cycle of repeated incarceration and chronic homelessness. This paper illuminates characteristics of a successful intervention by examining three program evaluations conducted at different times in the program's history. It further illustrates how program evaluation has been utilized to help shape the program design and related policies.

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