COTAAN is a prison aftercare program for women and girls
Pronounced, "Cotton," our program is designed to be a “soft” landing for those coming from a “hard” start.
Cleveland, Ohio has been named the second poorest city in the country. Statistics reveal that the Greater Cleveland area is home to many “returning citizens.” These men and women have served their sentences and are attempting to resume their lives in the community. Many, however, find it extremely difficult to get re-established. While several programs focus upon assistance to male ex-offenders, fewer options are available for women and girls returning home from incarceration.
In 2010, under the leadership and vision of The Reverend Christine A. Smith, Pastor, and by unanimous vote of the Covenant General Board, with support of the congregation, Covenant Baptist Church began the process of developing COTAAN: “Covenant Outreach Through Advocacy and Agency Networking,” a life-changing ministry that assists women and girls returning to society after prison. Minister Kathryn R. Johnson, Covenant Associate Minister and former marketing manager and non-profit administrator was originally named Program Director. However, due to a number of health challenges, Minister Johnson has changed roles from director to Volunteer Coordinator. In 2012 COTAAN was selected by and became the ministry focus for American Baptist Women and Girls Ministries. ABW set a goal of raising $25,000 for COTAAN from American Baptist women across the country. Approximately $5,000 was raised from that campaign.
It was determined that additional education and promotion of the needs for female returning citizens was needed to encourage the support of the program. Another American Baptist agency, "One Great Hour of Sharing" Domestic Development, stepped in and provided a grant of $30,000 to the program, 2013.
We are eternally grateful for the support of both of these programs which enabled us to begin the full development of the COTAAN ministry.
The goal of COTAAN is three-fold: To provide (1) spiritual guidance and support, (2)identifiable paths to economic self-sufficiency for women and girls who are ex-offenders and (3) reduce the rate of recidivism. COTAAN hopes to provide women and girls returning home from incarceration with spiritual and educational assistance that will help them to become productive citizens re-entering society. COTAAN believes the impact of a faith-based program will lead ex-offenders in making positive decisions in other aspects of their lives. We also believe that financial education and planning is a critical aspect of sustained and productive re-entry into society.
The program includes monthly spiritual guidance sessions, Bible study, and individual spiritual care meetings led by the senior pastor and clergy from the community. The program will also include twice monthly financial education classes. The trained volunteers will hold monthly meetings with clients to track progress, assist with any program needs, and offer support. The use of inspirational DVDs, videos, and presentations will focus on faith, spiritual and personal growth, and overcoming life’s challenges. Speakers from the church and community will provide motivational talks and testimonials. The clients will be encouraged to attend weekly worship services and Bible study.
Covenant’s hope is that COTAAN will provide examples of “radical discipleship” showing fully the impact of the program’s guiding scripture, Luke 4:18,
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed" Luke 4:18, New International Version of the Bible
For more information about COTAAN or to enroll, contact the COTAAN office at (216) 303-9790 or via email at [email protected] .