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Certified Peer Support Specialist Program


In alignment with the passage of Senate Bill 803 (SB 803), the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) recognizes certified Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialists as a new Medi-Cal provider type and Peer Support Services as a Medi-Cal benefit, effective July 1, 2022. Peer Support Services will need to be Medi-Cal certified before being able to bill. California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), in partnership with the County Behavioral Health Plans, is the certifying entity for the state-approved Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist Certification (PSSC) program. More information on the certification process is outlined below.
Peer Support Services are culturally competent individual and group services delivered by certified Peer Support Specialist. These services augment the SUD treatment services patients receive by promoting recovery, resiliency, engagement, socialization, self-sufficiency, self-advocacy, development of natural supports and identification of strengths through structured activities such as group and individual coaching designed to set and make progress toward recovery goals.

Medi-Cal Certified Peer Support Specialist:

Per CalMHSA, a Medi-Cal Certified Peer Support Specialist is defined as:

  1. An individual who is 18 years of age or older;
  2. Who has self-identified as having lived experience with the process of recovery from mental illness, substance use disorder, or both, as either as a consumer of mental health or substance use treatment services, or as a parent or family member of a consumer of mental health or substance use services; and
  3. Who has been granted certification under a county Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist certification program.

Services Provided:

Peer Support Services may be provided with the patient or significant support person(s), and may be provided in a clinical or non-clinical setting. DHCS guidance provided in BHIN 21-075 and BHIN 22-026 indicates that Peer Support Services include the following services components:

  • Education Skills Building:
    Provide a supportive environment where beneficiaries and their families learn coping mechanisms and problem-solving skills to help beneficiaries achieve desired outcomes.
  • Engagement:
    Peer Support Specialist-led activities and coaching to encourage and motivate beneficiaries to participate in behavioral health treatment.
  • Therapeutic Activity:
    Structured non-clinical activity provided by a Peer Support Specialist to promote recovery, wellness, self-advocacy, relationship enhancement, development of natural supports, self-awareness and values and maintenance of community living skills to support the beneficiary’s treatment to attain and maintain recovery within their communities.

Grandparenting Process:

In recognition of the years of experience, dedication, and work in Peer Recovery, CalMHSA instituted a “grandparenting” process for certification that is available to individuals who meet specific requirements.

For additional information about these requirements, please see the CalMHSA Grandparenting Process Guidelines.

Register and apply for grandparenting on the CalMHSA Certification website by clicking on the “Register/Login” button on the top right of the page. Certification to be completed no later than February 28, 2023.

Scholarship Opportunity:

DHCS released several funding and time-limited scholarships to cover the costs associated with the application, training and exam for applicants seeking Peer Support Specialist certification.

Scholarship applicants seeking certification through: Scholarship covers: Applications open:
Grandparenting Process Application and exam fees May 2 - September 30, 2022
Initial Certification (not through the grandparenting process) Application, training, and exam fees June 24 - September 30, 2022

  • Scholarship applications are open as noted above or until scholarships have been depleted, whichever comes first.
  • All applicants must register for and take the exam to be certified as a Medi-Cal Certified Peer Support Specialist.
  • Scholarships expire on November 30, 2022*. This means an individual must be registered for the certification exam prior to November 30, 2022, or the scholarship will be forfeited and considered expired/invalid.
  • Applicants will be notified of the status of their application within 30 calendar days from the day it was submitted. Notification will be made via email using the email address on file.
*Dates are subject to change
To be considered for a scholarship, individuals must be recommended to CalMHSA by Substance Abuse Prevention and Control (SAPC). If you are interested in recommending yourself or someone else for a scholarship, please CLICK HERE to complete the Scholarship Recommendation Form.

Scholarship Application Process:

  • To be recommended for a scholarship, complete the Scholarship Recommendation Form

  • Register online through the CalMHSA Certification website

  • Watch the "Orientation and Self-Assessment" video

  • Fill out the scholarship application

  • CalMHSA will review applications within 30 days of date submitted and respond to the applicant via email

For additional information about the scholarship process, please see the FAQs compiled by CalMHSA.

Click here to register and apply to begin the grandparenting process and/or apply for a scholarship.

For more information on California Mental Health Services Authority Medi-Cal Peer Support Certification visit CA Peer Certification


More information about the Peer Certification Program:



Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.
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