Changes for Pennsylvania Certified Peer Specialists Enhance Ability to Provide Supports

The Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) worked with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to revise PA’s State Medicaid Plan regarding the qualifications of who is eligible to become a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) in the Commonwealth. Qualification requirements were changed to better align with OMHSAS’ goals of breaking down barriers, increasing workforce opportunities for individuals with lived behavioral health experience, and creating a comprehensive and financially secure crisis system for all Pennsylvanians. Individuals interested in becoming a CPS will see the following changes:

  • Will no longer need to self-identify as having a Serious Mental Illness or Serious Emotional Disturbance but instead attest that they have a mental health diagnosis and have reached a place in their recovery pathway where they can positively support others in a similar situation.
  • Will no longer need a high school diploma or general equivalent diploma. Instead, they will be asked, as part of their application through the Pennsylvania Certification Board (PCB) to provide information, in their own words, of how they achieved and maintained recovery and wellness.
  • Will no longer need to have successful full or part-time employment or volunteer experience within the last three years.