I can’t remember when, where or in relation to what that I first heard this brief admonition, but it is one that I have repeated numerous times over the years to social work students, advocates and others. It is also something that I can easily forget during the excitement and celebration that immediately follow the passage of an important piece of legislation.
Last year’s signing of SB 803 marked an important milestone in the concerted multi-year advocacy effort to bring a statewide Peer Certification structure to California. If the third time’s a charm, given the number of attempts to pass similar legislation, one would expect SB 803 to be enchanted beyond measure. The reality is, given the fragmented authority scheme outlined in California’s version of Peer Certification, the devil alluded to above may not only find a home in processes at the state level, but there is also ample opportunity for that devil to take up residence in any of the deliberations of the 59 local mental health authorities that choose to implement Peer Certification in their communities.
CASRA has been and will continue to be involved in the processes to help inform and shape the development of an approved Peer Certification curriculum and qualifications, Code of Ethics, and other statewide requirements by the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), the State level department charged with these responsibilities. Beyond this however, we know that numerous meetings and conversations will be held, rates will be negotiated and set, and contracts and MOUs will be drafted and signed, that are equally important as the more transparent and accessible processes being undertaken by DHCS but pose much more of a challenge when it comes to meaningful stakeholder involvement.
In an effort to positively shape these more behind the scenes activities, CASRA has partnered with the California Alliance of Child & Family Services and NAMI California, to create the following set of “Peer Certification Principles for Implementation”. The three organizations have agreed to disseminate the Principles broadly so that policymakers at the State, county and organizational levels can better appreciate what it at stake, understand their important roles in fostering successful implementation, and have some guideposts to follow as they undertake their efforts.
Chad Costello, MSW, CPRP
Public Policy Director