Is there a state-endorsed certification process?
Does the state differentiate between Mental Health Peer Support Specialists and Substance Use Peer Support Specialists?
No, CPRS are individuals or family members of individuals with lived experience and in recovery from the effects of substance use and/or mental health issues.
What are the educational requirements to apply for a peer specialist training program?
Minimum of high school diploma/GED from an accredited school
What are the personal requirements to apply for a peer specialist training program?
Must have personal, lived experience in their own recovery or experience as a family member.
What are the professional requirements needed to apply for a peer specialist training program?
Read and agree to Virginia Certification Board Code of Ethical Conduct
What are the training requirements to become a Certified Peer Specialist?
Complete the 72-hour CPRS Training curriculum developed by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS)
What is the average cost for CPS training?
Free - $850 (depends on the trainer)
Who is responsible for paying for training? (List all)
Individuals. DBHDS has paid for nearly 1300 people in the last three years.
Other potential funding sources.
DBHDS is currently offering a scholarship for $150 to cover the full application fee of $175 so applicant is only responsible for $25. The discount fee is on a first come, first serve basis. This scholarship is only available until October 25th, 2020. Some employers may provide funding.
Is there a state-wide certification test?
Yes, successful completion of an IC&RC computer based 75 multiple choice question exam is required. Offered on-demand basis at an approved testing site. Candidates may choose day, time and site. Candidates who do not pass the exam can retest after a 90
What are the personal/professional requirements for certification, if they differ from attending the training?
Individual must attain 500 hours of volunteer or paid experience specific to peer recovery services. Experience hours include all aspects of peer recovery services. Examples include, but are not limited to: facilitating recovery support groups, individual sessions and documentation. 25 of the 500 hours must be supervised hours and specific to the domains (Advocacy, Mentoring/Education, Recovery/Wellness Support, and Ethical Responsibility) To become a Registered Peer Recovery Specialist you must have a CPRS through VCB or another accepted certification plus completion of the DBHDS Peer Recovery Specialist Training. To become a RPRS - apply through Board of Counseling website under the Applications and Forms page + fee
Is a background check required? If so, is a criminal record a disqualification for certification?
While felonies and disciplinary actions from other certification/licensing entities may not prohibit certification, documentation is required to be submitted at the time of application. Certification through the Board does not mean a professional should not disclose this information to potential employers and does not in any way exonerate charges.
What is the cost of the certification test?
Fee included in Application fee (test fee specifically $150)
Does the certification test need to be taken regularly to maintain certification?
As long as certification doesn't lapse, testing is only required once.
Aside from any fees for the training or state-wide certification test, are there other certification fees/costs?
Application fee is $175 (this includes fee to take test) Retest fee (for individuals that do not pass the exam): $150 Exam Cancellation Fee: $150
Is there a statewide certification body?
Yes, Virginia Certification Board
Please provide as much information about the certification board/body as possible.
Virginia Certification Board 298 S. Progress Avenue Harrisburg, PA 17109 Phone: 804.741.2319 [email protected]
Where can information be found for upcoming peer support trainings?
Virginia Cert Board Website:
On average, how often are trainings held in your state?
Several per month
Training providers (vendors) and their contact information.
What are the continuing education requirements?
20 hours of peer support specific education, including 6 hours in ethics. A maximum of 6 hours of WRAP training may be submitted.
Who tracks CEUs?
Individual is responsible for tracking CEUs and for making sure it is already approved education. Otherwise it must be submitted using the Education Approval Form found at
Is there a certification requirement for CPS Supervisors? If yes, provide details of requirements and relevant information.
There is not a certification. A DBHDS supervisor training is required for direct supervisors of RPRS whose services will be billed to Medicaid. The same training is encouraged for anyone supervising peer supporters.
Additional specializations available for certified peer specialists:

What are the different acronyms used to distinguish peer supporters and specific peer support specialties?
CPRS: Certified Peer Recovery Specialist RPRS: Registered Peer Recovery Specialist
Are Certified Peer Specialists services Medicaid reimbursable?
Yes, services offered by *Registered Peer Recovery Specialist may be billed to Medicaid. *Registered Peer Recovery Specialist is one step further than Certified Peer Recovery Specialist - requires individuals to be registered with the Department of Health Professions Board of Counseling (DHP-BOC) for their services to be billed to Medicaid.
How are peer support services paid for by the state? What specific Medicaid waivers are used, if any?
Peer Support Services and Family Support Partner Services are an added service under Mental Health (MH) settings for individuals with mental health disorders and under the Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services (ARTS) settings for individuals with substance use disorders and co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.
Is digital peer support available? Medicaid reimbursable?
Yes, and reimbursed by Medicaid for the time being (through August 2020). How long funding for digital support will last during COVID-19 is not known.
Is there a statewide Peer Specialist organization?
Name of Statewide Peer Specialists Organization*
Virginia Peer Recovery Specialist Network (part of Mental Health America of Virginia)
Peer Specialists Organization Website*
Peer Specialists Organization Primary Contact*
804.257.5591 [email protected]
Other relevant/helpful contacts:*
Contact information for Board of Counseling / Registered Peer Recovery Specialist: Email: [email protected] Phone: (804) 367-4610 Fax: (804) 767-6225 Address: 9960 Maryland Drive Suite 300 Henrico, VA 23233
Are there conferences held in the state specifically for Peer Supporters?
Yes. VOCAL's Annual State Wide Peer Conference. Also more specific conferences such as; Pathfinders for veterans and service members and Quest for individuals newer to recovery.
Are there recognition or award opportunities for peer support specialists or Substance Use Peer Support Specialists?

Additional Info*
For questions, please contact Mary McQuown, CPRS Peer Recovery Specialist Liaison Office of Recovery Services Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services 757-403-3007 [email protected]
If there are recent changes to the certification process due to COVID-19, are the changes permanent, temporary or other?
Training is now available virtually through Zoom. It will be a permanent option.

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