Westchester County’s Lives Forward Program Begins Second Class of Students at Westchester County Jail

Westchester County’s second class of students have begun the Lives Forward Training Program at the Westchester County Jail. Lives Forward was conceived to meet the needs of local community-based mental health and addiction providers in need of certified peer counselors with criminal justice lived experience. Taught by instructors from community-based organization in Westchester County, these peers will provide assistance, guidance and support to those seeking recovery for mental health and/or addiction needs.  The support of well-trained peers can be essential, and has become a growing component of co-occurring disorder recovery.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “There is great value in having the support of someone who has been through what you have been through. A sense of connection and camaraderie can help bolster your own drive toward success. I believe that this model will be a huge success, and we will soon see it being replicated in other parts of our state and country.”

The first class trained at the Westchester County Jail was comprised of 10 individuals who took the course work to be eligible to take the exam to become a mental health “Peer Specialist” and a “Certified Recovery Peer Advocate.” All graduated in April and upon release will finish certification testing to become fully certified and on a path for employment.

The Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health (DCMH) conceived this program in collaboration with the Department of Correction, the Mental Health Empowerment Project (MHEP), and the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency (NCADD) of Westchester.

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