Office of Recovery and Community Affairs

Peer Recovery Support Certification

Frequently Asked Questions

Note: This initial series of questions were recorded from two stakeholder forums which took place in March of 2022. Some questions are redundant but DMHAS chose to answer each question to ensure each submission was given full consideration. DMHAS has answered the questions based on current knowledge and reserves the right to update this document with additional questions posed by stakeholders as well as with updates based on evolving information and knowledge in this arena. 

 

Content Area: General Topic of Peer Recovery Support Certification

 

Why are we doing this?

To ensure that one standardized set of Peer Principles, Core Competencies and Code of Ethics are endorsed statewide and is in alignment with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Association for Addiction Professionals, National Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist (NCPRSS).

Core Competencies for Peer Workers in Behavioral Health Services (samhsa.gov)

NCPRSS Code of Ethics (naadac.org)

 

What organization or entity is going to oversee the Peer Recovery Support Certification process to ensure it runs smoothly?

DMHAS will fund and contract with the Connecticut Certification Board (CCB) to implement Peer Recovery Support Certification. DMHAS will oversee the contract. The Advisory Committee will make recommendations to the Department as implementation gets underway.

 

It almost sounds like the entire RSS program, at least for Connecticut, is being revamped, reworked, or privatized?        

Peer Recovery Support Training programs have been run by community based non-profits; this will not change. 

 

How will individuals that work in a Peer Recovery Support role benefit from the certification?

By earning certification, a Peer Recovery Supporter chooses to become part of a group of Peer Recovery Support who are recognized by the State of Connecticut and adhere to one standardized set of Peer Principles, Core Competencies and Code of Ethics that are in alignment with the SAMHSA and the NCPRSS.

 

How is it going to impact us, the peer recovery specialists?  Is it going to benefit us in any way?  Or is it just a political thing that is going on behind the scenes?

By earning certification, a Peer Recovery Supporter chooses to become part of a group who are recognized by the State of Connecticut and adheres to one standardized set of Peer Principles, Core Competencies and Code of Ethics that are in alignment with the SAMHSA and the NCPRSS. As a group, the Principles, Core Competencies and Code of Ethics of Peer Recovery Support will be strengthened by uniform competencies.

Would the bureaucracy and the regulations get so significant that it creates a barrier of entry to the profession?

No. The CCB will be responsible for testing and certification which will streamline the process and create a clear pathway to the credential. 

 

Could being overly governed interfere with the integrity of training and services?

Peer Recovery Support Training programs have been run by community based non-profits; this will not change. Peer-run organizations are expected to stay abreast of best practices in the area of Peer Recovery Support and adjust their curriculum accordingly. Though each approved training site may offer a unique curriculum, being “approved” by the Department (which is an established practice of the Department) requires training to address the same standard set of Peer Principles, Core Competencies and Code of Ethics. It will not govern any approved training program’s approach in training or services. 

 

Will the process of redefining what has already been created cause more divide than collaboration?

It is the goal to establish unified language (e.g., what is certification) and standardization of a process which is expected to bring clarity and unification.

 

Will the Peer Recovery Support Certification process put a positive image back on individuals in peer recovery roles, or is this just another way for the state to make money?

Being in alignment will strengthen a unified approach to defining a valued role. The Department is not making any money from this initiative.

 

Will the certification process become a way for others to make money?

As is the case currently, training sites govern their own fee structure independent of the Department. There will be certification fees which are separate from independently offered continuing education credits (again, not determined by DMHAS). 

 

Content Area:  Committee Structure

 

What are the different committees?

There have been two committees formed. The Advisory Committee, which guides the decision-making process and is open for attendance by any stakeholder and the Subject Matter Experts Committee which, along with the contracted agency (CCB), develops recommended questions for the certification test. Questions will be submitted to the Department for final review and approval. The Advisory Committee role is to understand how the certification process impacts peer support in Connecticut and submit recommendations to the Department for the implementation process.

 

Will people be able to be in all the committees or what are the requirements be part of that committee? What would that process look like? Do you have to get nominated?

People were able to apply for either or both though could only be chosen for one committee. The application process and committees have already been chosen as the deadline has passed. This was outlined on the DMHAS Office of Recovery Community Affairs (ORCA) website. People did not have to be nominated.

How is this process addressing conflicts of interest in the Advisory Committee and Subject Matter Expert Committee?

All appointments were chosen by the Selection Committee. All applications were reviewed and scored by each member of the Selection Committee. The Committee then came together to compile scores with additional considerations for diversity and equity. Members of the Selection Committee signed a confidentiality sheet and were asked to disclose any conflicts of interest. 

 

What are you doing to improve and include people with multiple disabilities?

DMHAS reviewed all applications of individuals interested in participation in the process. The Department is invested in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

 

How will you collaborate with substance use disorder peer coach and mental health peer recovery specialist to develop a more standardized approach?

It is the goal to establish unified language (e.g., what is certification) and a standardization of the process which is expected to bring clarity and unification. After notifying a wide range of stakeholders who may have lived experience in substance use and mental health recovery, DMHAS reviewed all applications of individuals interested in participation in the process with the goal of inclusivity. 

 

Content Area:  Training

 

Are all three going to offer the same curriculum?

Though each approved training site may offer a unique curriculum, being “approved” by the Department (which is an established practice of the Department) requires each training site to address the same set of Core Competencies, Principles and Code of Ethics. One way to look at it is that the state will be certifying “Peer Recovery Support”, not substance use or mental health specialists.

 

Will the curriculum be the same for each?  Right now, it is a little different, just the way it's administered from CCAR to Hartford Healthcare; there are two different certifications. Are you trying to merge them into one certification process?

Though each approved training site may offer a unique curriculum, being “approved” by the Department (which is an established practice of the Department) requires the each training site address the same set of Core Competencies, Principles and Code of Ethics. The CCB will be responsible for testing and certification which will streamline the process and create a clear pathway to the credential. 

 

What if someone is not accepted for a position because they took one course instead of another?

The CCB will be responsible for testing and certification which will streamline the process and create a clear pathway to the credential. The process for being hired for a position by an employer is a separate process from being credentialed/certified.

 

Will specificities of the different trainings be lost once the test is standardized?

No. Though each approved training site may offer a unique curriculum, being “approved” by the Department (which is an established practice of the Department) requires the training site to address the same set of Core Competencies, Principles and Code of Ethics.

 

Will specializations be created? For example, someone who works with nutrition, or people with experience with the legal system?

No, there will be one Peer Recovery Support Certification. Similar to other professions, the population with whom you work may be a function of your interest and choices of continuing education and training. Training sites generally offer continuing education opportunities.

 

Would the curriculum include other components like supervision, a youth component, young adults, elders, and LGBTQ communities?

Though each approved training site may offer a unique curriculum, being “approved” by the Department (which is an established practice of the Department) requires the training site to address the same set of Core Competencies, Principles and Code of Ethics.

There will be one Peer Recovery Support Certification. Similar to other professions, the population with whom you work may be a function of your interest and choices of continuing education and training. Training sites generally offer continuing education opportunities.

 

People learn differently, what accommodations will there be for people who speak different languages or have learning disabilities?

The contractor, in this case CCB, will be responsible for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and corresponding accommodations. 

 

Will there be assistance for those who have a learning disability?

The contractor, in this case CCB, will be responsible for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and corresponding accommodations. 

 

Is there going to be a process with family members and allies and recovery trainings?

Not within the scope of this current certification. The Department is open to ongoing discussion.

 

Content Area:  Certification

 

What will the requirements look like? How will it be?

Requirements for certification are being developed by DMHAS, PRCH and CCB and will be conveyed by the Advisory Committee.

 

If unifying the curriculum, how will the questions for the exam be selected?

The Subject Matter Expert Committee and the contractor (CCB) will develop exam questions related to the Core Competencies, Principles and Code of Ethics and submit them to DMHAS for consideration.

 

Will there now be certain degree requirements in order to obtain the Peer Recovery Support Certification?

No advanced degrees will be required.

 

Can people do an on-the-job training that counts as certification?

No. The CCB will be responsible for testing and certification which will streamline the process and create a clear pathway to the credential. 

 

Can individuals with a criminal background apply for a Peer Recovery Support Certification?

Yes.

 

What are the specific requirements needed in order to be grandparented into the Peer Recovery Support Certification?

The specifics around grandparenting are not yet developed; the Advisory Committee will be able to make recommendations for consideration.

 

Will the new certification void the ones we already have?

No. This will be a new statewide certification Peer Recovery Supporters may choose to pursue.

The specifics around grandparenting are not yet developed; the Advisory Committee will be able to make recommendations for consideration. 

 

Will there be a DPH fee?

No. DPH is not involved in this initiative.

 

Once you have your certification, will there be a certification for supervisors so that the people who get certified can serve as supervisors?

Not within the scope of this current certification. The Department is open to ongoing discussion.

 

If the test will be standardized, will there need to be standardized supervision to go with the licensing/certification?

Not within the scope of this current certification. The Department is open to ongoing discussion.

 

Will supervisors be required to have training on how to work with the newly-certified peers and how will they help them through the changing process?

Not within the scope of this current certification. The Department is open to ongoing discussion.

 

Content Area:  Recertification

 

What would the recertification process look like?

The process has not been determined. The Advisory Committee, along with the contractor (CCB), will be responsible for making recommendations to the Department.

 

How often would recertification be required?

To be determined.

 

What will be required for recertification?

The process has not been determined. The Advisory Committee, along with the contractor (CCB), will be responsible for making recommendations to the Department.

 

Will there be educational opportunities available for recertification?

The recertification process has not been determined. The Advisory Committee, along with the contractor (CCB), will be responsible for making recommendations to the Department. That being said, the Department values educational opportunities. Training sites generally offer continuing education opportunities.

 

Will a reminder of an upcoming recertification come in a reasonable amount of time prior?

While the process has not been determined. CCB has expertise in implementation of certification and recertification and we are looking forward to hearing how these details have been managed for other professional certifications.

 

Content Area:  Employment

 

Will Peer Recovery Support/Recovery Specialist certification result in more job openings?

By earning certification, a Peer Recovery Supporter chooses to become part of a group of Peer Recovery Support who are recognized as adhering to one standardized set of Peer Principles, Core Competencies and Code of Ethics that are endorsed statewide and is in alignment with the SAMHSA and NCPRSS.

The process for being hired by an employer is a separate from being credentialed/certified.

 

What will be the pay for a RSS, is the salary based on a per diem? 

An employer determines the rate of pay, which is separate from being credentialed/certified.

 

Will the Peer Recovery Support Certification result in higher wages, and/or better benefits?

An employer determines the rate of pay and benefits which are separate from being credentialed/certified.

 

Who makes the final decision as to who is placed where?

The contracted agency (CCB) will be responsible for testing and certification. Each individual can apply for employment wherever they choose.

 

Would the title's job description force RSSs to do things they do not want to do and dictate their movements and approach to recovery?

The certification is to ensure one standardized set of Peer Principles, Core Competencies and Code of Ethics are in alignment with SAMHSA and NCPRS.

An employer determines the job description for each position.

 

A lot of case management is being transferred to peers, why?

The certification is to ensure one standardized set of Peer Principles, Core Competencies and Code of Ethics are in alignment with SAMHSA and NCPRS.

An employer determines the job description for each position.

 

Can peers begin opening their own practices?

Peer Recovery Support Certification is different from licensure by DPH as an independent practitioner (which is required in the industry for operation of “private practice”). 

 

Can you operate on your own?

Peer Recovery Support Certification is different from licensure by DPH as an independent practitioner (which is required in the industry for operation of “private practice”). 

 

Additional questions may be submitted to:

DMHAS Office of Recovery Community Affairs.

Director Elsa Ward (Elsa.Ward@ct.gov) or Assistant Director Cheri Bragg (Cheri.Bragg@ct.gov)

 

NOTICE:

All Advisory Committee Meetings are open to the public and recorded. Recordings will be posted on an ongoing basis, with the most recent at the top.

 

Elsa Ward

Director of Recovery Community Affairs

DMHAS, Office of the Commissioner