January 21, 2017
By Dr. Leonard Golubchic
New York, NY – Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a first-of-its-kind Certified Recovery Peer Advocate (CRPA) training program connecting those with experience in substance use recovery programs with training for careers helping others in recovery.
The program, a product of the Department of Small Business Services’ New York Alliance for Careers in Healthcare (NYACH), will fill a growing demand for peer support services in substance use treatment. Peer support services have been found to reduce hospitalizations, reduce recovery times and result in improved patient experiences.
“We have been working every day to destigmatize substance use and mental health issues through our ThriveNYC initiative,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The Certified Recovery Peer Advocate program is yet another tool we will use to ensure that New Yorkers struggling with these issues not only have the support they need to overcome their challenges, but that they can utilize their experience to help others.”
Treatment and recovery providers anticipate an increased demand for peer support services following Medicaid’s enhanced reimbursement rates for peer services and the integration of behavioral health services in Medicaid managed care plans. In the past, the majority of peer support specialists were limited to funding through grant programs or working as volunteers. This is the first program in New York City that provides a seamless, credit-bearing training path through post-secondary education to CRPA certification and employment. The program is open to individuals who self-identify as having lived with a substance use disorder.
The CRPA training program is part of First Lady Chirlane McCray’s ThriveNYC initiative, which will train 200 peer support workers per year. The ThriveNYC training prepares graduates to obtain their New York State Certification and pursue careers in the behavioral health workforce. The first cohort of peer support workers will graduate by the end of June 2017. ThriveNYC emphasizes peer support as part of the effort to create sustainable recovery models. Training for certified peer specialists is one of the goals of ThriveNYC.
“For those struggling with substance misuse, the support and understanding of people who have gone through recovery can make all the difference. This program will add counselors in all of the five boroughs for those seeking rehabilitation from substance misuse, and provide these coaches with the opportunity to give back to their brothers and sisters in need. As the de Blasio Administration continues to expand access to mental health and substance misuse help through our comprehensive citywide plan ThriveNYC, we recognize that this is the sort of program that will help propel New Yorkers taking the next step into recovery,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, Chair of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, who spearheads the City’s mental health and substance misuse efforts.