Reentry Ambassador (RA): A Key Role in Creating Systems Change

by Carol Blessing, MSW

Y-ReCONNECTS is a statewide community of practice (CoP) consisting of three county-level teams situated throughout New York State. The success of a CoP relies on active participation from every member. At its core, a CoP is a learning laboratory through which every participant realizes they have something to offer and something to learn.

The role of the Reentry Ambassador (RA) is central to the work of Y-ReCONNECTS.

RA’s are members of the CoP and serve as its steward by helping the team remain focused on their shared vision. RA’s bring learning to and share learning from the county team CoP in monthly, webinar-based facilitated training and discussion sessions.

RA’s commit to a six month online training program designed to provide a theory-to-practice approach to equip each CoP with information, tools and other resources necessary to meet the overarching mission of the Y-ReCONNECTS initiative: to center the voice of youth and create capacity for youth-led system transformation, and improved outcomes.

Some RA’s are professionals committed to systemic change. Some have lived experience with the child welfare, rehabilitation, juvenile justice and/or other system, either as a youth or as the family member. Some RA’s may have both personal and professional expertise.

REENTRY = programs or services designed to help returning youth successfully and meaningfully re-establish connections to their communities following an out of home placement.

AMBASSADOR = a person who is an expert by experience and acts as a representative or promoter of transformation efforts to improve system outcomes with and on behalf of youth and families living with disability.