Overcoming Common Barriers

Getting Started

You may ask yourself “Where do I begin?” Reentry plans look different for each person, but there are some necessary steps everyone needs to get started.

Click the + signs below to create a checklist for your reentry journey.


Identification documentation is necessary for most aspects of life – to secure employment and housing, apply for benefits, access treatment, and much more.  This is often the first step in the transition from incarceration to the community.  Learn about the importance of each document and ways to obtain them for your state.

In order to receive a birth certificate, you will need to contact the Office of Vital Records in the state in which you were born.  Find a local office to learn about the process.

A driver’s license or state ID are the most acceptable forms of photo identification.  Learn about the documents you will need and find a local Department of Motor Vehicle office near you.
Having your social security number and card is important to have on hand for forms and documents.  Visit the Social Security website to learn how to get a replacement copy.


Appropriate housing may be difficult to find due to requirements and background information needed.  There are options including federal housing opportunities for low-income families, and halfway houses to help you through early sobriety.  Learn about the different housing options and find one that works best for you.

The Department of Housing and Development (HUD) connects homeless individuals with public housing, also known as “Section 8”.  Find out if you are eligible for government support.

Transitional housing is great option if you are not ready to live on your own, or if substance abuse is an issue.  Search our map to find halfway houses near you.

Shelters offer temporary housing and are helpful in emergency situations.  Search our map to find local shelters near you.


If you do not have your own car or bike, there are options to help you get around.  Public transportation is a cost-effective option, but it varies from state to state.  Learn about public transportation in your area.

Find public transit options near you.
Explore these popular transportation sites and mobile apps:



Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) provides funding to purchase or fix your vehicle.  Find out if you are eligible for assistance.

Health Insurance

Everyone has access to healthcare and it’s important to understand which coverage plans the government provides and your eligibility.  Discover the three types of coverage and enroll in the right plan for you.

A service offered by the federal government that helps you enroll in health insurance by state.  Explore your state’s plans.
A four-part system that provides health coverage for some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities.  Find out if you are eligible.

A service provided by both the state and federal government that offers low-cost health insurance based on income levels.  Find out if you are eligible.

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is part of Medicaid.  Find out if your family is eligible.

Expungement + Legal Aid

It’s important to obtain your criminal records and knows of restrictions you may face when you apply for housing, government aid, and employment.  You can help yourself by correcting mistakes on your record.

In some cases, you may find errors in your criminal record that can be removed or revised.  It’s important to become familiar with your state’s expungement laws.  Find record clearance overviews, lawyers, court forms, and resources in your area.

Lawhelp.org is a national network of legal aid workers who help people access legal aid organizations, programs, information, and forms across the county.  Find a network near you.

Substance Abuse

Sobriety is one of the most important aspects of successful reentry, and oftentimes the transition from incarceration to the community can trigger a relapse.  It’s important to pinpoint treatment programs and support groups that can help you maintain sobriety.

There are many options for starting and continuing treatment after release.  Find a service provider in your area.

12-Step programs are widely accessible in the U.S. and offer a range of support.  Find a local meeting near you.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous

Cocaine Anonymous


Gambler’s Anonymous


Incarceration of any length may leave you with little to re-build.  Download the guide below to start setting the foundation to your financial future.

Download the guide developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for help opening a bank account, setting goals, and locating resources.
quote marks

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

– Martin Luther King Jr.