What is PRA and what do we do?

I’m often asked by family, friends, colleagues, and business partners what PRA does.  It’s not necessarily a straightforward answer, as there are many different projects and lines of work going on simultaneously.  We don’t sell widgets and we don’t have a sales team, but we do have a unique brand that is highly specialized.  Being in the operations division provides me a unique perspective and gives me a top-level overview of many projects, but sometimes lacks the depth of what each project does.

Our company’s elevator speech consists of the simple – “we evaluate federal and state programs to see if they work” – and the more verbose – “we provide training and technical assistance to help communities implement what does work while focusing on mental health services in the criminal justice, juvenile justice, and recovery support fields.”  Often times after saying the latter, a blank stare ensues a need to explain myself further.  Granted, it’s not an easy thing to grasp but after explaining it, people have a better understanding and appreciate what PRA is about and the work we do.

The GAINS Center is primarily focused on expanding access to community-based services for adults diagnosed with co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders at all points of contact with the justice system.

The SOAR TA Center is a national program designed to increase access to the disability income benefit programs administered by the Social Security Administration for eligible adults who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and have a mental illness, medical impairment, and/or a co-occurring substance use disorder.

The Disability Determination Program is a one-year $10,000 stipend program awarded to graduate-level students to conduct supervised independent research on improving the Disability Determination Process for the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) two disability programs – Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

The National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice promotes systems change and improved outcomes for youth in contact with the juvenile justice system through a wide variety of projects, including the training, technical assistance, and education center, the Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Collaborative for Change.

The SMVF TA Center helps states, territories, and tribes develop effective, responsive behavioral health systems for service members, veterans, and their families, through public/private collaboration among federal, state, territorial, tribal, and local agencies.

The Veterans Justice Programs project is our newest undertaking, and entails research with veterans in contact with the criminal justice system.

Lastly, we have developed our own training programs that focus on our specialty areas, including suicide prevention, the Sequential Intercept Model, and trauma to help constituents transform systems and services.

Each of these projects and centers use highly specialized tools, including webinars, trainings, conference calls, Policy Academies, learning communities, national conferences, listservs, annual meetings, site visits, and more.

Behavioral health, CFC, FCN TA Center, GAINS, Juvenile justice, NCMHJJ, PAW, Sequential Intercept Mapping, SMVF, SOAR, Training & Technical Assistance, Wellness, Youth    

The views expressed by the blog post author are their own and do not necessarily represent the official views of Policy Research Associates, Inc.

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