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What is a Certified Family Peer Specialist?

CFPSs can articulate lessons learned from their own lived experience parenting a child (youth or emerging adult) and have specialized training to assist and empower families raising children (youth and emerging adults) who experience emotional, developmental, behavioral, substance use or mental health concerns. They partner with child and family serving systems to improve family outcomes and strive to eliminate prejudice and discrimination. Additionally CFPSs™ assist families and youth to bring their voice to the service delivery, planning and evaluation process of public and private supports and services for children, youth and young adults.

What is the purpose of national certification?

The National Federation of Families is responsible for providing oversight to the development and administration of a credible CFPS certification and ensuring that the credential meets high standards. National certification ensures the ethical and professional practice of family peer support services and the proficiency and competency of family peer support providers. It provides:

  • Defensible and reliable examinations
  • Increased value of the CFPS credential
  • Increased availability and recognition
  • Ability to defend and protect the CFPS credential
  • Increased security and confidentiality
  • Increased professional acceptance and marketability of the CFPS credential
  • Peer development and review with professional test development guidance
  • Ensuring the FSP workforce is well-trained and highly quailfiied
The Certified Family Peer Specialist™ certification defines the uniform standards and title of parents helping other parents who have children experiencing social, emotional or behavioral health challenges. Certification promotes ethical practice and creates mobility of workers across states. It brings to the workforce parents with experience in successfully helping their own children and increases the acceptance of this effective "modern and good" or best practice.

What are the outcomes of receiving family peer support?

Certified Family Peer Specialists™ help other families understand children’s wellness and receive regular supervision. In turn, they support, teach, coach, and mentor other parents/caregivers to be effective advocates for their own children (youth and emerging adults) and equal partners with professionals in the delivery of services and policy development. The overall goal of family peer support is to decrease bias and prejudice associated with behavioral health challenges and promote effective strength-based, cross-system services that are family-driven/youth-guided.
The outcome of receiving support from a CFPS™ is families:

  • Positively accessing and being engaged in treatment and educational services for their child, youth or emerging adult
  • Understanding the health and well-being of their child, youth or emerging adult
  • Experiencing less family stress
  • Increasing the resiliency skills of their child and family
  • Reducing the use of expensive hospitalization and long-term residential treatment

Who is eligible for certification? How do I apply?

Individuals who have the lived experience of parenting a child with emotional, developmental, substance use, behavioral, or mental health challenges plus 88 contact hours of training, and 1,000 hours of work (paid or unpaid) experience delivering peer level support to other similarly situated families are eligible to apply for certification. To apply, please watch our brief "How to Apply" video below and review the Application Guidelines page which we hope will answer all of your questions and help you prepare to apply. You may also review our Candidate Handbook to learn more about applying to become a CFPS.

The National Federation of Families provides the only National Certification for Family Peer Specialists™ (CFPS). We invite you to learn more about national certification and the CFPS role below or by reviewing our Candidate Handbook.

Note: The title Certified Family Peer Specialist™ was launched following a two-year revision of national certification and workforce core competencies. As of 2020, it replaces the previous national title: Certified Parent Support Provider.

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To learn more about the role of Family Peer Specialists, watch the brief video above courtesy of Iowa's Department of Human Services and the University of Iowa for Peer Support Training and Coordination.