Local leaders working toward goals as diverse as reducing jail use, addressing behavioral health needs, and reducing homelessness may want to consider utilizing a promising group: peer support workers.

This introductory resource brief highlights some of the policy and funding opportunities city and county leaders can explore to build on the success of early examples of communities that have utilized peer support as part of their continuum of care and in justice-related interventions. Peer support has been applied and evaluated for decades within behavioral health recovery and treatment.

Engagement of peers has been shown to lower the cost of services, reduce hospitalization rates, and increase quality of life outcomes. While the efficacy of peer support has been proven within the behavioral health community, there is also great opportunity for the utilization of peers within the criminal justice system.