What is the Medi-Cal Peer Certification Program

What is the Medi-Cal Peer Certification Program

Table of Contents 

  1. I. What is the Medi-Cal Peer Certification Program? 
  1. II. Senate Bill 803 Definitions 
  1. III. Updates 
  1. IV.17 Core Competencies

Who are Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialists? 

A Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist uses their lived experience of recovery to engage and promote recovery and hope in others.


They provide assistance to improve outcomes and quality of life of individuals with mental health and substance use difficulties. 


Today, peer support services are offered in a variety of settings and provide a wide range of services including “peer mentoring or coaching, connecting to recovery resources facilitating and leading recovery groups, and building community” (SAMHSA).   


What is Senate Bill 803 (Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist Certification Act)? 

Senate Bill 803 (SB 803), authored by California State Senator Jim Beall is the “Mental Health Services: Peer Support Specialist Certification Program Act of 2020”.


SB 803 recognizes the benefit that peer support provides to individuals and families with mental health and substance use difficulties and the increased diversity and effectiveness peers bring to the health workforce.  


In alignment with SB 803, the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) established statewide requirements for the development of a program that will certify peer support specialists under the Medi-Cal program, creating a new Medi-Cal provider type and service type.


A county that has chosen to opt into a peer certification program (either one developed by them or through representation by an entity) may seek reimbursement under this new benefit for services, as this service now meets the Medi-Cal reimbursement requirements. 


The California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) was identified by the County Behavioral Health Directors Association (CBHDA) to submit an implementation plan on behalf of interested counties opting into the peer certification program.


  1. II. Senate Bill 803 Definitions: 

Senate Bill 803: Peer Support Specialist Definition 


“Individual who is 18 years of age or older, who has self-identified as having lived experience with the process of recovery from mental illness, substance use disorder, or both, either as a consumer of these services or as the parent or family member of the consumer, and who has been granted certification under a county peer support specialist certification program.”  


Senate Bill 803: Peer Support Specialist Services Definition 


“Culturally competent services that promote engagement, socialization, recovery, self-sufficiency, self-advocacy, development of natural supports, and identification of strengths. Peer support specialist services include, but are not limited to, prevention services, support, coaching, facilitation, or education that is individualized and is conducted by a certified peer support specialist.”  


  1. III. Updates for the CalMHSA Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist Certification Process 


1. CalMHSA is comparing Peer Certification Trainings across the United States to ensure that each of the Core Competencies are thoroughly addressed by California training programs.  

CalMHSA is working hard to create policies to ensure that every element of Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist Certification reflects our community’s input, values, goals, and priorities for addressing the Core Competencies.  

CalMHSA takes stakeholder concerns seriously and is integrating community feedback at every level of Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist Certification implementation.  

CalMHSA is particularly focused on Equity and Accessibility in every step of the process.  

The following policies are being identified per stakeholder input:

  • Accommodations Requests Policy & Procedures
  • Grandparenting Policy & Procedures
  • County Reciprocity Policy & Procedures
  • Out-of-State Reciprocity Policy & Procedures
  • Complaints and Corrective Actions policies
  • Supervisory Standards Policy & Procedures

2. A digital Certificant Registry is being created 

3. A Code of Ethics is included in the Behavioral Health Information Notice (BHIN)

4. CalMHSA has released Requests for Proposals (RFP’s) to choose vendor(s) to train Peers in the 17 Core Competencies and a different one to choose vendor(s) to provide trainings for Peer Supervisors.  

5. CalMHSA has also released an RFP to select vendor(s) to create a Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist Certification exam and administer it.  

6. CalMHSA is exploring how to sponsor Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist trainings for Peers and how to sponsor Peers to pay examination costs. Various funding streams are being evaluated but no concrete funding sources have been identified yet.  

7. The prospective start for individuals to begin the application process to become a Certified Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist is May 2022. 



  1. 17 Core Competencies: 


These 17 Core Competencies are the requirements of the Medi-Cal Peer Certification Program training.  

1) Concept of Hope, Recovery and Wellness 

2) Roles of Advocacy 

3) Roles of Consumers and Family Members 

4) Psychiatric Rehabilitation Skills and Service Delivery and Addiction Recovery Principles, including Defined Practices. 

5) Cultural and Structural Competence Trainings 

6) Trauma-Informed Care 

7) Group Facilitation Skills 

8) Self-Awareness and Self-Care 

9) Co-occurring Disorders of Mental Health and Substance Use 

10) Conflict Resolution 

11) Professional Boundaries and Ethics 

12) Preparation for Employment Opportunities, including Study and Test-Taking Skills, Application and Resume Preparation, Interviewing, and Other Potential Requirements for Employment 

13) Safety and Crisis Planning 

14) Navigation of, and referral to, other services 

15) Documentation Skills and Standards 

16) Confidentiality 

17) Digital Literacy 

Prior Meeting(s) Power Point Presentations

Past Informational Meetings

To review past informational meetings

on the Senate Bill 803 Medi-Cal Peer Certification Program, click any of the
links below:

•          CalMHSA Peer Certification Informational Session

•          CalMHSA Sesion de Informacion de Programa de Certificacion de Companeros

CalMHSA SB803 Community Input Sessions

Thank you to all who attended the CalMHSA SB803 Community Input Sessions. We sincerely appreciate everyone’s participation and input. See the summary of the recommendations and input below, along with a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). We also wanted to extend a special thank you to Keris Myrick for her expertise and support.

See Summary of Community Input Sessions Feedback Here: Complete Input Summary Report October 2021

Please See General FAQ Here: FAQ

Peer Certification Input Sessions Slides:

•          Specializations PowerPoint

•          Grandparenting PowerPoint

•          Training Exam PowerPoint

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