Substance Abuse Prevention and Control

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.

Certification Process

CalMHSA is currently processing applications for certification for peer workers referred by county mental health and/or substance use disorder programs.  For more information, please visit the CalMHSA Certification Requirements.

To seek Certification as a Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist an individual must meet the following qualifications:

  1. Be at least 18 years of age.
  2. Possess a high school diploma or equivalent degree.
  3. Be self-identified as having experience with the process of recovery from a mental illness or substance use disorder, either as a consumer of these services or as the parent, caregiver or family member of a consumer.
  4. Be willing to share their experience.
  5. Have a strong dedication to recovery.
  6. Agree, in writing, to adhere to the Code of Ethics.
  7. Successfully complete the training requirements for a peer support specialist.
  8. Pass the certification examination.

Please note that it may take up to 30 days to process applications.

Additional Information and Resources:
Peer Certification Process and Resources

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 vist Grandparenting Certification Requirements - CA Peer Certification.

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 June 30, 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.
If you are interested in applying for a scholarship, please contact SAPC at
  • Scholarships under the grandparenting process cover the application fee and the cost of one exam attempt.
  • Scholarships under the initial certification cover the application fee, training, and one exam attempt.
  • Click here for a list of CalMHSA approved training vendors.
  • Applications for certification are approved for 12-months.  This means the scholarship must be used prior to 12-month expiration or scholarship is forfeited.
  • The scholarship shall contain a unique identification number.  The scholarship is not transferrable.
  • When scholarships are no longer available for a given county, the applicant will be placed on a waitlist.
  • No extensions will be granted for expiration of scholarships.

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 questions, technical assistance and/or application status updates, please contact CalMHSA at or call (279) 234-0699.

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 CalMHSA's Resource Library.


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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