Vita Education Services has a long history of working in the criminal justice system. It is the largest provider of educational services in the Bucks County Correctional Facility taught by both trained volunteers and professional staff. Vita offers both literacy and its unique Decisions programs to inmates at the correctional facility.
Volunteers are trained to tutor basic literacy and English as a Second Language both one-on-one and in small group settings. According to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, programs of this kind are needed so that adults, especially immigrants, can “fully participate in the country’s civic life.”
Vita delivers its Decisions programs through its Decisions for Living (DFL) and Job Readiness courses.
Decisions for Living DFL helps individuals make sound decisions using a logical 5-step process. In addition to identifying the external facts of a situation, inmates learn to identify other variables that influence decision making: feelings, thoughts, attitudes, self-images, habits, values, and past experiences. Vita staff and volunteers help transform those with issues related to impulsivity, low-self image, and poor decision making abilities into self-determining, controlled, socially and emotionally responsible men and women.
These interactive classes are led by two trained facilitators who not only teach the decision making course, but also help participants apply the process to their own individual lives and situations.
Vita provides extensive training and support to volunteer instructors who teach the Decisiosn for Living course one-on-one to inmates and who also help provide personal application and instruction.
In a recent article in The Intelligencer entitled Matter of Choice, staff writer Bill Devlin follows the match between a Vita volunteer and her client, a 28-year old inmate.
Vita’s Job Readiness program is a 36-hour course that incorporates the Decisions model as it applies to re-entry of inmates to the workforce. Each student has the personal support of a volunteer mentor. Participants learn and practice interview skills and develop their own resumes. Business men and women, community leaders and others from the community-at-large provide a wide range of job information and encouragement to those who are preparing to find a legitimate and self-sustaining means of support.