Overcoming Common Barriers

You may ask yourself “Where do I begin?” Reentry plans may look different for each person — assess your short and long-term needs.

Click the + signs below to get started.

Parents have a legal duty to provide financial support.

  • Get a better understanding of child support requirements. Learn more.

Basic computer skills are essential in today’s world. You need certain computer skills to email, conduct online searches, create documents, and more.

  • Download our free Basic Computer Skills guide, and start practicing today.

Below are some tools to help you reach your educational goals.

  • High School Equivalency Diploma: Depending on where you live, you will need to take either the GED® test or HiSET® exam. Many programs offer free or low-cost classes. Learn more.
  • Trade Programs: Looking to complete a trade program to get licensed or certified, click here.
  • Adult Education Centers: Located in various places such as libraries, high schools, and community colleges, adult education centers offer a wide range of courses. Plus, training at these centers is often free of charge. Learn more.

Email is a free and reliable form of communication that enables you to send and receive information in letter format, including documents, photos, and videos.

  • Service Providers: Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft Outlook provide free email services.
  • Internet: You will need an internet/Wi-Fi connection to access your email from a computer or phone. If you do not have your own Wi-Fi, libraries offer free internet as well as computers for use.
  • Choosing a Username: Be sure to keep your email address short, simple, and relevant. A professional address will help to convey credibility and trustworthiness, especially when communicating with potential employers. Example: [email protected]

For more information on email set up and other basic computer skills, download our guide.

Errors on your criminal record may be removed or revised.

  • Become familiar with your state’s expungement laws, and find information on record clearance, lawyers, court forms, and resources in your area. Take the expungement eligibility test here.
  • Read more on the power of expunging your record.

Tackling your finances after incarceration may be challenging. Start setting the foundation for your future.

Most communities provide free access to basic needs such as food and clothing through non-profits and government assistance. To search for providers, enter your location on our Find Resources map.

  • Feeding America: Partner with food banks, food pantries, and local food programs to bring food to people facing hunger. Find one in your area.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the SNAP program provides food stamps to needy individuals and families. Find out if you are eligible.
  • Goodwill: Clothing donations are available at little to no cost.
  • Dress for Success: A non-profit organization providing women with professional attire and job readiness skills.
  • Salvation Army: Provides shelter, domestic abuse counseling, and food pantries.

Everyone has access to healthcare—learn which coverage plans the government provides and check your eligibility.

  • The Marketplace: A service offered by the federal government to help you enroll in health insurance by state. Explore your state’s plans.
  • Medicaid: A four-part system that provides health coverage for low-income individuals, families, and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Check eligibility.
  • Medicare: A service provided by both the state and federal government that offers low-cost health insurance based on income level. Check eligibility.
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): CHIP is part of Medicaid, dedicated for child coverage. Check eligibility.
  • Prescription Assistance: Most drug companies offer free or low-cost medication. Check eligibility.
  • Giving Insurance Freely for Transition (G.I.F.T.): An amazing opportunity for returning citizens, and anyone in transition, to return to the community with free health insurance. Learn More.

Appropriate housing may be difficult to find due to financial or background requirements. Federal housing opportunities are available for low-income families, and halfway houses can help you through early sobriety.

  • Federal Housing: The Housing Choice Voucher Program, formerly known as Section 8, connects individuals with public housing and helps pay for rent. Check eligibility.
  • Transitional Housing: For individuals that struggle with substance abuse, transitional housing, known as halfway houses, provide structured living in a group setting. Find halfway houses near you.
  • Shelter Housing: Shelters offer temporary housing for individuals in emergencies such as a sudden eviction or domestic violence situations. Find local shelters near you.
  • Rentals: Rental sites such as can help you find housing within your budget.

Identification documentation is necessary for most aspects of life—to secure employment and housing, apply for benefits, access treatment, and much more.

  • Birth Certificate: Contact the Office of Vital Records in the state in which you were born to learn about the process.
  • Driver’s License/State ID: A driver’s license or state ID are the most acceptable forms of photo identification. Learn what documents you will need, and find a local Department of Motor Vehicle office near you.
  • Social Security Card: Obtain a replacement copy.
Finding a job with a criminal record can be overwhelming. Narrow down your interests with a career assessment, learn how to write a resume, prepare for an interview, and apply for jobs at companies willing to give you a second chance.

  • Click here for more information on how to find a job.

If you are facing legal challenges, find support to help you.

  • Legal aid can help returning citizens with child support, expungement, housing, employment, and access to public benefits. Learn more.
  • Records Pre-incarceration: Most facilities have a form you can fill out to request your medical records. If they do not have a request form, contact your last known medical provider by writing a letter, and include your name, social security number, date of birth, address, phone number, and the records you are requesting.
  • Records During Incarceration: This process and guidelines vary by state. Some facilities may charge you for copies of your medical records, while some will allow you to review your records, but they may not release copies, and some facilities may deny your request altogether. You will likely not be allowed to view your psychotherapy notes or your records if they are being used as a part of a trial or investigation. Ask someone at the facility to explain the process.

Mental health and wellness are important to your reentry success. Discover ways to manage your mental health and treatment options.

  • Behavioral Health Providers: Find a provider in your area.
  • Health & Wellbeing: Self-care is clinically proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and increase happiness. Learn about the different techniques.

If you are unable to pay off your fines and fees, talk to your officer, judge, or public defender office sooner rather than later. If you do not have the resources to pay off your fees, you may be able to complete community service instead.

Having supportive family and friends during your transition is important, and there are several ways to build, repair, and strengthen your relationships.

  • Family & Friends Reintegration: Use our worksheet to get you started.
  • Parenting Classes & Programs: Develop skills and tools to help you enhance your relationship with your children. Find programs and classes in your area.

You can start receiving Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62, and you are entitled to full benefits when you reach your full retirement age. Learn more.

  • Eligibility: Check eligibility online.
  • Apply: If you are eligible, you can also apply for benefits online.
  • Disability: To receive disability benefits, you will need to provide documents such as birth certificate, proof of citizenship, military discharge papers, or medical records. Review this checklist to ensure you have everything you need, then apply online.
Sobriety is one of the most important aspects of successful reentry, and oftentimes the transition from incarceration to the community can trigger a relapse. There are many treatment and support options to help you maintain sobriety.

  • Substance Use Providers: Find a service provider in your area.
  • 12-Step Meetings: Find a 12-step program near you for a wide range of support.
  • SMART Recovery: Find a meeting in your area.
  • Celebrate Recovery: Find a group near you.

Surrounding yourself with a network of people that support your reentry goals is vital for a successful transition to the community.

  • Mentorship: Connect with a peer mentor, available to provide guidance, help manage stress, and refer you to available resources in your area.
  • Support Groups: Virtual meetings are a convenient way to build a support network. Tune into the Tha Yard, a free online meeting for formerly incarcerated people.

Public transportation is a cost-effective option, and it varies from state to state.

  • Public Transit Routes & Schedule: Find public transit options near you.
  • Websites & Apps: Explore these popular transportation sites and mobile apps.
    –  CityMapper
    –  Moovit
  • Financial Help: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) provides funding to purchase or fix your vehicle. Find out if you are eligible for assistance.

Voting rights vary depending on the state in which you live, your conviction type, and number of convictions. Many states restore voting rights after prison, parole, or probation, but there are a few exceptions. Depending on the state, your voting rights might be automatically restored, or you may have to apply for restoration.

Reentry Resources for Former Inmates

America without her soldiers would be like God without his angels.

– Claudia Pemberton
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