PRESS RELEASE: New Peer Certification Bill SB 803 Introduced

SB 803 (Beall) PRESS RELEASE

Principle author Senator Jim Beall,  Principal Co-author Assemblymember Marie Waldron, Co-authors Senator Wiener and Senator Wilk Assembly members Aguiar-Curry, Arambula Aguiar-Curry, Grayson, Ramos and Wicks  CAMHPRO a co sponsor

SB 803 Fact Sheet

SB 803 Peers Press Release January 8 2020

Senator Jim Beall Champions Mental Health Legislation to Certify Peers

Today, long-time mental health champion Senator Jim Beall introduced legislation SB 803 to create state certification for mental health care providers known as Peer Support Specialists.

Last year, Senator Beall’s bipartisan effort, SB 10, made it to the Governor’s desk with unanimous votes, where it was vetoed. Sen. Beall is reintroducing this legislative initiative as an effort to make strategic, cost-effective reforms to California’s mental health programs.

“Statewide certification of Peer Support Specialists will ultimately save the state money while improving mental health outcomes. The Governor and I have the same goals- help people and use our resources wisely. SB 803 will improve our system in an ongoing, sustainable way.”

A peer is a person who draws on lived experience with mental illness and/or substance use disorder and recovery, bolstered by specialized training, to deliver valuable support services in a mental health and/or substance use setting. “It is time that peers are validated as an essential and professional part of the behavioral health workforce” asserts Sally Zinman, Executive Director of California Association of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations (CAMHPRO).

The state is facing a shortage of qualified mental health professionals to ensure all Californians receive care. Peer Support Specialists are a much needed addition to the workforce.

Dr. Jonathan Sherin, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, emphasized that LA County is ready to take action. “LA County looks to expand upon and professionalize its peer support programs in a sustainable manner which will not be possible until we secure statewide certification and a reliable reimbursement mechanism. Leveraging lived experience through peer support is critical to the service transformation we need in California. The state must make the most of every resource available to address our mental health crisis; recognizing and resourcing Peer Support Specialists statewide will be a wise investment.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and 48 states have a certification process in place or in development for mental health peer support specialists. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released guidance in 2007 for establishing a certification program for peers to enable the use of federal Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) financial participation with a 50% match.

Studies show that peers contribute to the ability of people with mental illness and substance abuse to obtain education and employment, contributing to the California economy rather than depending on social safety nets alone.

“Research demonstrates that the utilization of qualified peer support specialists has measurable benefits to clients including reduced hospitalizations, improved functioning, and alleviation of depression and other symptoms. The time has come for California to embrace peer support as an evidence-based model and put in place a certification program that will standardize best practices” stated Maggie Merritt, Executive Director of the Steinberg Institute, a Sacramento-based non-profit mental health public policy institute.

In California, demand for peer services is growing, but there is no statewide scope of practice, training standards, supervision standards, or certification.

 “California has an important opportunity to deliver quality, cost-effective, evidence-based mental health services and add diversity to our mental health workforce by certifying Peer Support Specialists,” said Michelle Doty Cabrera, executive director of the County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California (CBHDA).  “While California faces a severe shortage of mental health professionals needed to serve our diverse communities, the specific services delivered by trained, supervised peers have shown to improve client outcomes and reduce costs at the same time.  But California can only realize these benefits for our mental health clients in Medi-Cal if we join the 48 states that have already recognized the effectiveness of Peer Support Services through certification.” 

SB 803, The Peer Support Specialist Certification Act of 2020 establishes a statewide certification program for peer support specialists and provides the structure needed to maximize the federal match for peer services under Medi-Cal.

The legislation is applauded by a broad and large coalition of supporters, and is sponsored by California Association of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations, County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California, County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, and Steinberg Institute.

Become a Peer Action League Member (PALM)

Do you want to be part of something bigger than yourself?
Become a member of Peer Action League (PAL)

1) Join our Intro to PAL webinar
2) Apply online or by PDF

Register for one of the INTRO TO PAL Webinars:

Two Webinar Dates

Tuesday May 14
12 noon – 1 p.m.

Thursday June 6
12 noon – 1 p.m.

To become a PALM you must agree to abide by
CHAMPRO’s Public Policy Principles

TO APPLY using SurveyMonkey or by downloading the PDF

PALM APPLICATION FOR INDIVIDUAL PEERS

SurveyMonkey Link: Individual Application

PDF Download Individual Peer Application

PALM APPLICATION FOR PEER RUN PROGRAM/AGENCY

Peer Action League Activities

  • Webinars to Optimize Peer Run Agency/Program Infrastructure & Sustainability-Quarterly.
  • Regional Policy Forums:
    • 4 per year
    • culminating with a statewide Conference in Year 3.
  • Advocacy webinar series for effective peer stakeholder voices.
  • Continued monthly peer webinars
    • Peer Best Practices
    • Standardization
    • Peer Support 4 Peer Specialists (PS4PS)
  • Empower peers throughout the State to serve on key State-level policy bodies.
  • 3 PAL Action Committees meet online
    • Peer Workforce
    • Cultural Racial & Ethnic Equity
    • Public Policy
  • PAL Members (PALMs) quarterly meetings online to share progress and outcomes from Action Committees, and to plan collective next steps.

Please pass this on to colleagues, friends and people you serve!

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Optimize Your CA Peer Run Organization to Push a Unified State Peer Voice 8/15 Special Webinar

Hello California Community,
We have a truly terrific opportunity that Executive Directors and Leaders of California Peer-Run Organizations/Programs, and other community-based organizations will NOT want to miss. Please register for this dynamic webinar with practical tools to optimize your agency’s efficiency, and/or pass this information on to other leadership you believe will benefit.
This special one-hour webinar on Wednesday, August 15, 2018 at 11am PST is presented by SAMHSA’s Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy—BRSS TACS, and the California Assoc. of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations—CAMHPRO, titled “Optimize Your CA Peer Run Organization to Push a Unified State Peer Voice”, is specifically designed to enhance peer run organizational readiness for unified State peer advocacy on critical policy changes coming up with, for example, the impending state peer certification protocol, implementation and the eventual capability of Medi-CAL billing for unique peer support services.
This interactive webinar focuses on supporting California peer run organizations to enhance their overall effectiveness and organizational structure by reviewing various examples of technical assistance (TA) that may be relevant for them, and highlighting various TA options available at the local, state and federal level.  Participants will learn how to identify what TA is, how to request it and engage with the providers, and how to ensure it supports and aligns with the organization’s goals and objectives if applicable.

Please register

We hope you can make it!
California Assoc. of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations (CAMHPRO)