Peer Certification

CalMHSA is accepting applications for the Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist Certification.

In 2020, California passed a law (Senate Bill 803) that makes it possible for certified peer support specialists to be eligible for Medi-Cal reimbursement through county mental health plans and substance use disorder plans (behavioral health plans). This important step in the delivery of behavioral health care values the experience that peers — persons with lived experience — can provide and expands counties’ capacity to care for those who need them. For details on training, certification, examination, applying and more, visit

County behavioral health plans selected CalMHSA to implement a single, standardized Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist certification program. This was done in recognition of the need for a uniform process across the state — one that does not require peers to obtain multiple certifications in multiple counties, supports quality and application of standards, creates efficiency for counties, and adds credibility to the peer profession in California. Key program activities include:

  • Creating and implementing the certification program, approving training entities, certifying persons, conducting investigations, and collecting data
  • Administering and disbursing scholarships
  • Monitoring program activities, evaluation, and quality assurance; processing complaints and appeals

News and Updates

Program Overview


The California Department of Healthcare Services (DHCS) has made limited funding available in the form of scholarships for peers seeking the certification for Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialists in California. The scholarships and funding are time-limited. The scholarships are now available to all applicants, with priority given to applicants submitted by their county behavioral health plans who have elected to implement the peer support benefit. Individuals seeking certification under the out-of-state reciprocity process are not eligible for participation in the scholarship program.  

Grandparenting Process

California recognizes that peers have long functioned as a part of the prevention, early intervention, treatment, and recovery process for individuals living with mental health conditions and/or substance use disorders. The grandparenting process takes a person’s work experience and training into consideration for meeting the Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist certification. The application deadline has been extended to June 30, 2023.

Initial Certification

Individuals not eligible for the grandparenting process but interested in becoming certified as a Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist may also apply through the initial certification process.

Areas of Specialization

Specialized training — to support individuals who are unhoused, justice-involved, or in need of crisis services, and for parent/caregiver/family member peers — will also be available. However, those areas of specialization are not required for certification as a Medi-Cal Peer Support Specialist.


Core Competencies

Medi-Cal Peer Certification Stakeholder Advisory Council

Recognizing the need for input from peers and other stakeholders to implement a Peer Support Specialist certification program, CalMHSA established a Stakeholder Advisory Council that makes recommendations on behalf of a variety of stakeholder groups. The development and selection of the Advisory Council members was conducted in collaboration with the California Association of Mental Health Peer Run Organizations on behalf of DHCS. Advisory Council members were selected through an application process, and the membership reflects the Medi-Cal populations served by the county specialty plans. Wherever possible, Advisory Council members represent underrepresented or difficult-to-engage communities. CalMHSA values continuous quality improvement; the Advisory Council will serve as an avenue for ongoing feedback during the implementation phase and beyond.

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