Substance Abuse Prevention and Control

Certified Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialists


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.
  • Certified Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialists can also serve as Contingency Management Coordinators. To learn more about the Contingency Management Program visit LA County Department of Public Health - Substance Abuse Prevention and Control - Contingency Management
  • Peer Documentation Guide: This serves as a guide with examples for Peers to document their services.

Certification Process

CalMHSA is currently processing applications for certification for peer workers.  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:
To learn more about Peer Support Certification and Services and sign up for trainings, visit the SAPC Trainings and Events page

Scholarship Opportunity:(New)

The Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Prevention and Control (SAPC) has contracted with the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) to provide a limited number of scholarships intended to cover costs for the Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist Certification Program. Each scholarship will cover:

  • CalMHSA application fee for Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist Certification
  • Cost of the CalMHSA-approved Peer Support Specialist Core Competency 80-hour training with the approved provider of your choice
  • Cost of one Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist certification exam attempt
  • One retake exam, if preapproved by SAPC on a case-by-case basis

Scholarships are limited, and available until all funds are exhausted or December 31, 2025, whichever comes first.

To apply for a SAPC Peer Certification Scholarship, please complete and submit the SAPC Peer Certification Application.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Refer to the packet below Peers Scholarship External Facing Manual for details on submission, review, and notification dates.

Scholarship Application Process:

  • Review the scholarship packet to learn about the requirements to apply for a scholarship.

  • Apply for the scholarship here

  • Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Application cycle dates for submission Application review dates Applicant will be notified no later than
February 1, 2024- March 31, 2024 April 1, 2024- April 30, 2024 April 30, 2024
April 1, 2024- June 30, 2024 July 1, 2024- July 31, 2024 July 31, 2024
July 1, 2024- September 30,2024 October 1, 2024- October 31, 2024 October 31, 2024
October 1, 2024- December 31, 2024 January 1, 2025- January 31, 2025 January 31, 2025
For additional information about the scholarship process, please see the FAQs compiled by CalMHSA.

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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