“Recovery-to-work ecosystems require efficient regional stakeholder collaboration to achieve their goals. Individuals are especially vulnerable as they transition between different recovery steps while moving through treatment to employment. Behind the scenes, stakeholders must coordinate efficiently, generally with a regional champion to offer leadership and management.” Addressing Appalachia’s Substance Use Disorder Crisis Through Recovery-to-Work

Getting Organized as Ecosystem Champions

Coordinating Regional Stakeholders and Solidifying Partnerships

You have a vision for what a successful recovery to work ecosystem looks like in your region, now it’s time to organize regional stakeholders to create a continuum of care.

By now you have connected with other organizations in the recovery to work ecosystem. You may have met in small groups and discussed what success looks like in your region. There are a number of individuals who are ready to be recovery to work champions. These people will represent their communities, organizations, and individual projects in further understanding the SUD challenges and opportunities for recovery.

This is a good time to bring a larger group together to discuss where there are gaps in the regional ecosystem and where there are opportunities for collaboration. This will set you up for success in engaging employers and other stakeholders.

After completing phase 2, you should have the following outcomes:

  A better understanding of the challenges and opportunities that are unique to your region.

  A more intentional approach to formalizing roles, partnerships, and joint work across the ecosystem.

  A coordinated team of recovery to work champions ready to work together to start or expand outreach to businesses.


Recruit and Convene Partners in a Regional Working Session

A regional working session is an opportunity to: develop a shared vision of success, identify cross-organizational opportunities to strengthen the recovery to work ecosystem, agree on structure and roles for joint work, and develop consensus around a joint approach to business engagement.

You can use the stakeholder engagement strategy developed in Phase 1 of the guide and the responses to any initial outreach to develop a list of organizations to invite to a regional Recovery to Work ecosystem working session. It is important to include the organizations that are Recovery to Work champions and that were identified as high priority for cultivating new partnerships. These organizations have the most potential to impact recovery to work efforts, either through their ability to prepare people in recovery for successful careers or to influence the willingness of businesses to hire people in recovery. It is also important to consider how the recovery perspective will be represented in your regional meeting.

  Template: Use this email template to set up a regional working session. If you have not made any contact with the organizations you’re inviting, consider using the template from Phase 1 instead.

  Activity: Use these templates to design an agenda that is responsive to where your region is in the ecosystem development process. Four sample agendas are included that offer different approaches to a regional working group session. For example, is this the first time a group has come together? If so, consider spending most of your time using the regional self-assessment activity to develop a shared vision of success and list of initial opportunities. If your region is further along in your ecosystem work, you will likely move through the regional self-assessment quickly (it will still be a valuable exercise to solidify group identify and surface new ideas) and can spend more time discussing how to formalize roles and partnerships.

  Community Spotlight: If you expect to encounter stigma among potential partners, consider an anti-stigma training for staff and partner organizations. The South Carolina Office of Rural Health (SCORH) invited substance use professionals from rural South Carolina communities to travel to Rochester, NY, with their staff for a 2022 Rochester Stigma Summit, hosted by the University of Rochester Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP)Recovery Center of Excellence. From this conference, participants planned South Carolina-specific community conversations facilitated by University of Rochester consultants and staff. Conversations hosted by Georgetown and Beaufort counties made strides to reduce stigma, biases, and negative perceptions around substance use disorder and recovery in their communities. Georgetown County conversation participants also became the only community conversation facilitators in SC through a train-the-trainer event. Read SCORH’s full Impact Report from 2022. For more information on combating stigma, refer to Phase 5.

Use the Recovery to Work Ecosystem Assessment to Shape Shared Vision and Identify Opportunities

If your group of recovery to work champions is meeting or working together for the first time, a regional self-assessment can help the group define a shared vision for success and identify opportunities for working together. Once the group has defined shared goals, the regional action plan template can be used to translate ideas into action through identifying tasks, staff leads, and timelines.

  Activity: Use the Recovery to Work Ecosystem Assessment Tool to consider and discuss your region’s strengths, where your ecosystem needs work, and your region’s top opportunities

  Case study: Get inspired by the recovery to work goals other regions have identified and worked across organizations to achieve.

  Template: Use the regional action plan template to develop regional goals that address gaps and opportunities identified with the regional self assessment.


Decide on Structure for Roles and Relationships of Recovery to Work Partners

Based on the opportunities identified in the regional ecosystem assessment, are there other organizations you can reach out to get involved? Are there opportunities to formalize partnerships by mapping working relationships, developing MOUs, and sharing data? The spotlights below show how some regions have formalized recovery-to-work partnerships. Regions have taken different approaches to formalizing partnerships, but the end result is the same: providing seamless transitions to those in recovery and better coordination of outreach and support to the business community.

  Activity: Use the RTW Roles and Relationship Examples and Questions tool to learn how other regions have formalized partnerships. The tool includes questions that can be used in a regional working session to develop your own ecosystem map or flowchart.

  Case study: Read this case study to see how Southern Tier 8 in New York leveraged relationships with employers to develop a recovery to work pipeline and train workplaces in recovery friendly practices.