Peer Specialist Emotional Support Network
The Washington State Peer Support Program began in 2005 with an initial focus on mental health and Certified Peer Counseling. Over the years the program has grown to include Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Certified Peer programs, and Peer Support Services in an ongoing effort to meet the workforce demands. Peer counseling is largely a Medicaid service modality with many agencies utilizing Peer Support Services in Behavioral Health programs, including mental health, substance use, supported housing, supportive employment, emergency rooms, bridging programs, children’s long-term in-patient programs, and consumer run organizations.
These Peer Support Services, and the related workforce, provide a unique and complementary service to traditional and non-traditional Behavioral Health Services throughout Washington. Because this work has proved so successful at promoting wellness and recovery the number of employed Peer Specialists has increased exponentially in the attempt to meet the needs in all regions of the state.
The Washington State Health Care Authority, hereafter called “HCA”, was directed in the Washington State Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill, Section 215, to establish a Peer Specialist Emotional Support Network program for individuals employed as Peer Specialists. HCA is initiating this Request for Applications (RFA) to solicit Applications from Peer Run Organizations interested in leading the development and implementation of this new program. The resulting program must provide for all Peer Specialists represented in Behavioral Health, Youth, Adult, and Parent/Family Peer Specialists and must include, but is not limited to, support groups for Peer Specialists, recovery support targeted to the Peer Specialists themselves, and support to address specifically the secondary trauma inherent in peer work.
HCA values Peer Support Services and recognizes the need for additional supports and resources for those employed as Peer Specialists. These supports are best provided by other employed Peer Specialists as they are aware of the inherent challenges, barriers, and stigma which this field of employment faces on a daily basis.
There are distinct challenges that can arise for the Peer Specialist workforce who are working in unique roles, throughout different regions, and with diverse populations in Washington State. This Peer Specialist Emotional Support Network is intended to increase employment retention, promote wellness, and provide skill building by establishing an effective and confidential support network throughout Washington State. It is essential that this support and networking be provided by Peer Specialists for Peer Specialists. It is therefore essential that the awarded Applicant is able to demonstrate their understanding of, and experience with, each Peer Specialist role this should include the differences and similarities, best practices, and the ability of the Applicant to support each unique role.