What is a Reentry Peer Specialist?
“Reentry”- transition from prison to community
“Peer” – individuals that share similar lived experiences
“Specialist” – individual highly skilled in a specific field
“Reentry Peer Specialists” – people with shared lived experience around incarceration and mental health and/or substance use challenges who work in a variety of settings to provide support to other people with criminal justice involvement who are seeking to find or maintain their own personal healing and recovery.
How is it different from Reentry Peer Specialist in other states?
Via Hope’s training focuses on healing from trauma specifically related to incarceration. This is an 8-day training (6 days face to face and 2 days online) specific to individuals that have been incarcerated.
Why is this needed?
This training provides opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals with a history of mental health challenges and/or substance use challenges with a workforce development credential and life skills that address both the issues of recidivism and barriers to reentry through a recovery-oriented peer-led strategy. Why?
- Texas does not currently have a RPS certification
- There are only 4 other states in the nation that have Reentry Peer Specialists and they are not in our model or format of delivery
- Organizations have expressed an interest
- It will help further support and define the ideology of peer work
- This provides opportunities for employers
- We have yet to find another training with a similar curriculum
- Recidivism reduction will be accomplished by having individuals deal with their past traumas
Will a certification be earned?
Yes, there will be a knowledge assessment and certification (credential) issued. The certification will be issued by the Texas Certification Board (www.tcbap.org)
How Is It Different from Certified Peer Specialists & Peer Recovery Support Certifications?
- Specifically, for formerly incarcerated individuals
- Designed to address three specific Traumas:
- Before incarceration
- During incarceration
- After incarceration
Is there a parallel training for people the RPSs will work with?
Demystifying the Reentry Workforce for wardens, corrections officers, parole officers, sheriff’s departments, and all organizations willing/not willing to hire formerly incarcerated individuals.
How is it different from Community Reentry Endorsement Training?
Our current endorsement 2 day training was created in response to Texas House Bill (1), Article II, Department of Health and Services Rider 73 which required DSHS to implement a mental health peer support reentry program. There was a curriculum and pilot program created to partner with Local Mental Health Authorities and county jails to have Certified Peer Specialist go into the jails to provide peer support and build relationships.
The Reentry Peer Specialist training was conceptualized, developed, and will be trained by individuals that have been formerly incarcerated. Research, lived experience, and evidence based practices were the catalyst for creating this curriculum. This 8 day training has been specifically designed on the principles of peer support from a Thrauma® (a series of three specific traumas culminating in one event) perspective, in this case incarceration. The concepts of release vs. freedom, and what it means to be in recovery are also specifically addressed. The training will prepare individuals that have lived experience with incarceration to assist others through that process of discovery and healing. Participants will be required to pass an exam and receive a credential as a Certified Reentry Peer Specialist.
Our Via Hope RPS Development Team
- A lawyer
- Two LGBTQ advocates
- A PhD in Human Services with a dissertation in support services
- Two formerly incarcerated individuals
- Over 20 years combined peer support services experience
- A seasoned curriculum writer
- One of the country’s largest data/research and evaluation organizations (TIEMH-Texas Institute of Excellence in Mental Health)
This curriculum was developed and co-written by Dr. Sandra D. Smith (who herself was formerly incarcerated), Darcy Kues, JD, and Maureen Nichols. Funding for the development of the Reentry Peer Specialist Training provided by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.