Medicaid Funded Peer Support Services
In November 2004, the Pennsylvania Recovery Workgroup generated
the following definition of recovery to guide service system transformation
in this state:
"Recovery is a self-determined and holistic journey that
people undertake to heal and grow. Recovery is facilitated by
relationships and environments that provide hope, empowerment,
choices and opportunities that promote people reaching their
full potential as individuals and community members."
In 2005, the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health Substance Abuse
Services (OMHSAS) gave full endorsement to the definition and
committed to transforming our own mental health system which included
the development of services that facilitate and support recovery.
Peer Specialist Services have been defined in Pennsylvania as
one of these services.
Peer support is a system of giving and receiving help founded
on key principles of respect, shared responsibility, and mutual
agreement of what is helpful. Peer support is not based on psychiatric
models and diagnostic criteria. It is about understanding another’s
situation empathically through the shared experience of emotional
and psychological pain. When people find affiliation with others
whom they feel are “like” them, they feel a connection.
This connection, or affiliation, is a deep, holistic understanding
based on mutual experience where people are able to “be”
with each other without the constraints of traditional (expert/patient)
relationships. Further, as trust in the relationship builds, both
people are able to respectfully challenge each other when they
find themselves re-enacting old roles. This allows members of
the peer community to try out new behaviors with one another and
move beyond previously held self-concepts built on disability,
diagnosis, and trauma worldview.
Background of Peer Support Services
- In 2003, the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health Substance
Abuse Services (OMHSAS) committed to transforming the mental health
system to include the development of services that facilitate
and support recovery. Peer Specialist Services have been defined
in Pennsylvania as one of these services.
- In 2004, OMHSAS received a 3-year Mental Health Systems Transformation
Grant award from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services
(CMS). The grant provided for the development and refinement of
a training curriculum and peer certification process known as
the PA Peer Specialist Initiative (PSI).
- On February 22, 2007, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid
Services (CMS) approved Pennsylvania’s Medicaid State Plan
Amendment to include Peer Support Services as a component of rehabilitative
services. This was accomplished through a broad partnership of
individuals and organizations.
- In 2008, OMHSAS partnered with The University pf Pennsylvania
to develop a curriculum and training plan for Certified Peer Specialists
to specialize in working with older adults.
- Other plans are in process for other peer specializations such
as transitional age youth and forensics and further career development
Help for Developing Peer Support Services
Medicaid Funded Peer Support Services Frequently
Peer Support Services Service
Description Review Checklist
Samples and Suggestions for Writing Your PA Medicaid-funded Peer Support Services Description Application
PROMISe Provider File Frequently Asked Questions
Guidelines for Peer Support Services
Peer Support Services, Medical Assistance Bulletin 08-07-09, May 22, 2007
Peer Support Services - Revised, OMHSAS Bulletin 09-07
Peer Support Services Provider Handbook Pages
Peer Specialist Initiative - An
Certified Peer Specialists - Employment Experiences
Mental Health Association of Pennsylvania (MHAPA) OpenMindsOpenDoors campaign has launched part of its site devoted to employers and employees. As part of that new area, MHAPA will also list certified peer specialists in the state looking for employment. (Once we have a list of peer specialists we will reach out to providers to register and provide job opportunities that can be listed.) The link to the peer specialist form for individuals to complete is
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CPS Memorandum of Understanding Signed
The Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) are pleased to announce the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) stating the desire to work collaboratively to continue Certified Peer specialist (CPS) training in Pennsylvania. Under the terms of the MOU, funding may be provided in part by local OVR and in part by local mental health funding sources for OVR approved individuals/customers to participate in an OMHSAS approved 10-day, 75 hour CPS training program. The terms of the memorandum are available for review in entirety here. For any questions of further information please contact: OMHSAS, Bill Boyer (717-705-8297 or email@example.com) or OVR, Randy Loss, telephone (717-787-5136 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Older Adult Peer Support Services
In February 2007 the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health and
Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) received approval to include
Peer Support Services under the state’s Medicaid State Plan.
In 2008 OMHSAS received a one-year federal grant to develop an
older adult peer specialist training curriculum.
Persons aged 65 years and older represent the fastest growing
age group in the United States. However, older adults are less
likely to seek treatment from mental health professionals due
to stigma. Older adults with behavioral health disorders who do
not receive treatment are at increased risk of hospitalization,
reduced physical functioning, and mortality. It is the goal of
this grant to train peer specialists to more effectively work
with older adults.
Older Adult Competent Training: The first curriculum
is a 4-7 hour one-day training session and covers areas required
for competency certification (e.g. normal aging, co-occurring
illness in older adults, and working with older adults.) This
training covers basic skill sets that all peer specialists should
acquire in order to work with older adults.
Older Adult Enhanced Training: The second curriculum
is a more intensive three-day training designed for Peer Specialists
who have expressed interest in working with older adults. The
three-day curriculum includes: depression, anxiety, substance
abuse, stages of change, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, trauma,
and cultural and ethnic perspectives and their relationship to
The two types of Older Adult Peer Trainings are being piloted
in the Summer of 2008 and will be available statewide at the end
of the 1-year grant, after an initial pilot and revision process.
Older Adult Resource Documents
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Peer Support Coalition
- Regulatory and Funding Parameters for Peer Specialists in Supporting Employment
- Peer Specialist Services by County, provided by the Pennsylvania Peer Support Coalition
- Pillars of Peer Support: Transforming Mental Health Systems of Care Through Peer Support Services, The Carter Center, November 2009.
Peer Support, Shery Mead, March 2003
- Peer Support: What
Makes It Unique?, Shery Mead, December 2004
Employment and Work Satisfaction Outcomes Associated With
the Pennsylvania Certified Peer Specialist Initiative, August
23, 2007, Mark S. Salazar, PhD, and Jason Katz, University of
New Practices in Organized Peer Support 2003: Report
From NTAC's National Experts Meeting, March 2003
- OMHSAS Peer
Specialist Initiative Presentation
Peer Specialist Outcomes in Pennsylvania, Mark Salzer, PhD,
- Peer Support/Peer
Provided Services Underlying Processes, Benefits, and Critical
Ingredients, Phyllis Solomon, 2005
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During June 2010, the Pennsylvania Community Providers Association presented a series of four webinar trainings on peer supports through a funding partnership with OMHSAS. The sessions were recorded, have been archived, and are available from PCPA along with copies of PowerPoint slides and other materials. Each session is two hours in length, but can be listened to in segments. To view the series visit the PCPA web site.
Recovery Innovations of Pennsylvania
Recovery Innovations of Pennsylvania is part of Recovery Innovations,
Inc., a national company whose mission is“To create opportunities
and environments that empower people to recover, to succeed in
accomplishing their goals, and to connect to themselves, others,
and meaning and purpose in life.” Recovery Innovations,
Inc. achieves this mission by:
- Demonstrating examples of recovery oriented systems of care
in AZ, VA, CA and; NC.
- Conducting workshops and seminars that offer service providers
recovery oriented program and service alternatives
- Conducting Peer Employment Training classes
- Conducting WRAP classes
- Offering a wide range of training opportunities such as Advanced
Peer Training, Supervisory and Leadership Training and more.
Please visit web sites www.recoveryinnovations.org
to learn more about our work and service options.
The Institute for Recovery and Community Integration
The Institute for Recovery and Community Integration works to
introduce and advance communities' understanding of recovery and
community integration as the catalyst for transforming individual
lives, communities, and all levels of behavioral health systems
in a culturally competent manner. We do this through:
- Workshops on recovery
- On-site Recovery Education Groups
- Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) Groups
- Training WRAP Facilitators
- Operating a Peer Specialist Certificate Program and Online
Forum for peer specialists
- Providing technical assistance to agencies, service providers,
Please visit our web site at www.mhrecovery.org.
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