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Meet Chip Morris of A Strong Hand Up

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chip Morris,LCSW.

Chip, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have over 26 years of behavioral health experience since receiving my Masters in Social Work from The University of Georgia in 1991. I am a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist in the state of Georgia and have worked in both the public and the private sector in the areas of community mental health, crisis intervention, private practice and court services. Through years of experience providing services to the local court system, I began to see the need to expand and improve offender education resulting in A Strong Hand Up. The ASHU team is focused on developing a cutting-edge approach to building productive citizens.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Disrupting the status quo is never a smooth road especially when it is focused on helping those that have broken the law. Doing things “the way it has always been done” is often easier to understand and implement. Although we have had significant success so far with multiple jurisdictions, it can be challenging to get some judges and solicitors to fully understand how to integrate our programs into their established systems. The participants themselves have fully embraced our approach as they immediately experience how affordable, accessible and effective our program is.

A Strong Hand Up – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
ASHU is an offender education company focused on providing classes for the courts that are effective, accessible and affordable. We approach these issues in a non-traditional manner by focusing on full completion, information retention, probation communication and avoidance of revocation. ASHU does not provide probation services through collaborating closely with both private and public agencies to assure clear ethical boundaries between the two entities as it is crucial to keep probation and mandated offender education separate. ASHU has taken a firm step forward by adding a civics review to all of our courses as we are of the strong opinion that the teaching of the broader meaning of citizenship has been absent in our educational systems as well as the media. Completion of one of our courses represents more than just fulfilling another condition, it represents a positive shift in behavioral choice, prevention of offenders going further into the criminal justice system and more responsible citizenship. We offer a strong hand up by providing cutting-edge instruction from Masters level facilitators that help participants become the productive people we want living in our communities. To assure we are delivering what we claim we are, we have partnered with The University of Georgia to research and assess our satisfaction, participation and recidivism rates with the intention of fine tuning as we go based on their feedback.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
In this endeavor specifically, I measure success not just based on numbers of jurisdictions or participants but also on the excitement of those referring to, teaching and taking our classes. When we get the overwhelmingly positive feedback after each class, it validates for me personally that we are shaking up the status quo and actually helping people make better choices. Another marker for success has been when other providers have shifted their approach in an attempt to match what we are doing.

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