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RSAT Forum > Monthly Discussion > May 2019: Peer Support Specialists View modes: 
skeller - 4/30/2019 2:21:21 PM
May 2019: Peer Support Specialists
We are interested in training RSAT participants to become Peer Recovery Spceiclists. Is there paid employment for them when they leave our prison?

Response 1:
You are on to something and the answer is “yes.”

The peer support specialist workforce has expanded since Medicaid established funding for these services in 2007. Most states now have developed training and certification standards for peer support specialists that allow them to be paid for their services. Research supports the evidence base for these services. Consequently, peer support specialists have become part of behavioral health service systems, including for alcohol and drug treatment. They are also increasingly recognized for their essential role in promoting person-centered services that promote engagement and activation that fosters recovery and resiliency.  (Daniels, A.S., Ashenden, P., Goodale, L., Stevens, T. National Survey of Compensation Among Peer Support Specialists. The College for Behavioral Health Leadership,, January, 2016).

Two national surveys looked at both compensation received by peers across the country and what agencies are paying their peer support staff.  In the first survey, most of the peers surveyed self-identified as “certified.”  Most were women and almost half worked in community behavioral health organizations. Others worked in consumer/peer run organizations and health care provider organizations. Most worked full time, with 41% having worked for 1 to 3 years. Across all of the respondents, the average wage was reported as $15.42 per hour (as of May/June 2015). Males on average received $2 more per hour than women. The highest paid worked for Health Plan/Managed Care Organizations or Health Care Provider organizations; the lowest paid worked for Consumer/Peer Run Organizations and Community Behavioral Health Organizations. Wages also varied by region of the country.

The second survey on organizations that employ peer support specialists examined 271 organizations that responded to the survey.  It basically confirmed the findings in the peer support specialist survey, with consumer/peer run organizations’ maximum salary of $15,51 less than the $25.14 maximum salary paid to peers by psychiatric inpatient facilities.

Response 2:
There are several states where its prisons now offer training for participants to become peer support specialists.  In fact, check the RSAT-TTA webinar archives for a podcast of such a program from Tennessee that aired on Wednesday May 15.

Check what your state requires to certify peer specialists as they may differ from what is required in Tennessee.