"We know one of the most effective things we can do [for justice-involved youth] is to bring peer-to-peer assistance to them.” – Gov. Jay Inslee
Secretary Ross Hunter and Juvenile Rehabilitation (JR) staff recently presented to Gov. Inslee on behavioral health and increasing access to peer-powered reentry supports for justice-involved youth. Alongside our partners at Health Care Authority, DCYF discussed the demographics of JR youth, their unique behavioral health needs, and the disproportionate barriers they face. By increasing connections and supports to peer mentors with shared experience and background, we can impact these factors and build safe, strong communities through successful reentry.
DCYF shared how the agency is prioritizing peer and mentoring supports across agency goals and the work needed to expand services, address racial and ethnic disparities, and remove barriers for these youth. Some of this work includes:
- Ensuring youth voice in decisions.
- Providing culturally responsive community partners.
- Connecting to peer networks such as SPARK and Hope for Homies.
- Providing peer-mentoring and transformational mentoring programs such as Relevant Engagement and MADE Men.
- Hiring certified peer counselors for youth.
- Operationalizing a Peer Bridger pilot program in JR facilities.
By working with youth to identify goals, address individualized needs, and provide meaningful peer and mentoring supports, DCYF is helping to set young people up for success as they reenter the community and transition into adulthood.
Watch the full presentation video here.