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WCSI Position Title: Forensic Certified Peer Specialist
Position Classification: Social Services Aide 3
MCR Code: M465-P4003-5801
Department: Behavioral Health
Supervisor: Certified Peer Supervisor
Position Status: Full-Time/Regular/Non-Exempt
Prepared Date: 08/01/2017


This is a full time position in a peer support capacity working within the criminal justice system to support indivduals during a period of incarceration and re-entry back into the community following release.  The Certified Peer will assist clients in articulating personal goals for recovery and in determining the objectives the client needs to take in order to reach his or her recovery goals not only during incarceration but also upon release and reintegration back into the community.  Noted in the Education and/or Experience section on page 3 are specific requirements for this position.  The Certified Peer provides peer support services, serves as a client advocate; provides client information and support.  The Certified Peer performs a wide range of tasks to assist client in regaining control over their own lives and over their own recovery process.  The Certified Peer will role model competency in recovery and ongoing coping skills. 


Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Include the following, (other duties may be assigned as deemed necessary by management):



Adheres to WCSI, county, state, and federal regulations governing the Behavioral Health program. Attends specially designed training programs provided through WCSI, county, state, and federal agencies.

Crisis Support:

Assisting the client with the development of a WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan), PAR (Prevention and Recovery Plan) and/or a Psychiatric Advance Directive (PAD).  Learning to recognize the early signs of relapse and how to implement their identified coping strategies or request help in order to head off a crisis, especially during their period of reintegration.  Upon release, the Certified Peer will assist clients to learn how to use less restrictive alternatives that prevent hospitalization, incarceration and the use of emergency services when appropriate. 

Development of Community Roles and Natural Supports:

Assisting the client in gaining information about going back to school, job training and/or learning about going back to full/part time paid work upon release from prison.  Facilitating the process of obtaining reasonable accommodations for psychiatric disability (mental health day, flex time, etc.). Support the vocational choices clients make and assist them in overcoming job related anxiety.  Assist clients in building social skills during the period of incarceration, but that they can also utilize   within the community once released that will enhance job acquisition and tenure.


Assisting the client on learning how to access and maintain stable housing once their period of incarceration ends and/or learning how to improve or change an inadequate housing situation that they had previously.


Cultivating the client’s ability to make informed, independent choices.  Helping the client develop a network of contacts for information and support who have been through similar experiences.  Utilize and teach problem solving techniques with individuals.  Utilizing their specific training lead as well as teach client how to facilitate Recovery Dialogues.  Assist client in setting up and sustaining self help (mutual support).

Self Improvement:

Planning and facilitating practical activities leading to increased self worth and improved self concepts.  Teach client how to identify and combat negative self talk.  Teach clients how to identify and overcome fears. 

Social Network:

Assisting the client with learning to develop and maintain positive personal/social support networks (friends, family, associates), learning how to improve or eliminate unhealthy personal relationships, learning how to start a new relationship (such as going to a movie with a new friend, meeting someone new at a social gathering), and learning how to improve communications with family members and others once released.

Documentation and Participation:

Document client contacts and progress, maintaining a permanent record of activity, according to the agency’s established methods and procedures.  The Certified Peer will document the following on the Individual Service Plan; assisting client in determining “problems”, identifying recovery goals, setting objectives, determining interventions based on client’s recovery/life goals, observe the progress client makes towards meeting objectives and understanding an utilizing specific interventions necessary to assist client in meeting their recovery goals.  The Certified Peer will participate in meetings and trainings, as assigned by the supervisor and will maintain Certification status.  The Certified Peer will also collaborate with other WCSI employees working within the criminal justice system.  

Other Duties:

Other duties may be assigned as deemed necessary by management.

Supervisor Responsibility

This position has no direct supervisory responsibility.  This position reports directly to the Certified Peer Specialist Supervisor and may also take direction from the Child/Intake Department Manager, Director of Behavioral Health and/or Executive Director.




A CPS is a self-identified individual who has received or is receiving state priority group services as defined in MH Bulletin OMHSAS-94-07, Serious Mental Illness: Adult Priority Group, and who

  • High School Diploma or GED; and

  • within the last 3 years have maintained at least 12 months of successful full or part time paid or voluntary work experience or obtained at least 24 credit hours of post-secondary education; and

  • successful completion of the Peer Specialist Certification Training.

  • You must be able to identify yourself as a person who has received or is receiving services for a serious mental illness.  The Certified Peer is someone who has lived experience in the behavioral health community, having been previously diagnosed themselves.  The Certified Peer has utilized resources in the community and/or on an inpatient basis and can assist others because they have had similar experiences.  The Certified Peer is articulate in recovery priniciples and are themselves in recovery.  The Certified Peer can demonstrate success in their own recovery over an extended period of time. The Certified Peer has to be willing to self-disclose their own individual recovery story to assist the clients they serve in their recovery.

  • The Certified Peer with lived experience within the criminal justice system and/or experience supporting individuals navigating the criminal justice system is preferred.

  • The chosen candidate should have experience in WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plans) and be able to support those they work with in creating their own WRAP.  

  • The chosen candidate must attend the “Peer Support Within the Criminal Justice System Training” within six months of hire. 


This position requires strong interpersonal skills, effective oral and written communication skills.  It also requires the ability to prepare clear, concise reports.  Working knowledge of computer software that includes databases, spreadsheets and word processing for the purpose of tracking information and preparing reports, letters and forms.


Valid PA driver's license, Proof of valid Auto Insurance, ACT 33 (Child Abuse), ACT 34 (Criminal Record) and FBI Clearance.  There will be monthly screenings of PA Medicheck List, LEIE and EPLS.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to operate a motor vehicle, sit, stand, walk, bend and lift objects of up to 10 pounds. The employee regularly uses a computer, phone, fax, copier and other essential office equipment to carry out daily work assignments.
The services of this job are community based and provided within the Westmoreland County Prison. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is exposed to a combination of office and outside/travel conditions and regularly exposed to a moderate level of noise.  The chosen candidate will follow the rules and requirements of the prison system in regards to entry and dress code. 

 Reasonable Accommodation:

It is WCSI’s business philosophy and practice to provide reasonable accommodations, according to applicable state and federal laws, to all qualified individuals with disabilities.

This position description is not an employment agreement or contract, but rather a description of the expectations of job duties and responsibilities as assigned to this position. Management has the exclusive right to alter the scope of work within the framework of this position description and the position classification, at any time without prior notice.



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