Certification Competencies

There are five core competencies that embody the skills, knowledge and abilities of Certified Family Peer Specialists and their work supporting parents and families. In the coming weeks, look for more detailed descriptions of what each competency area includes.





Systems Knowledge

and Navigation

Wellness and


Resources and

Natural Supports

The descriptions below pertain to the original core competencies for national certification. These descriptions will be updated to reflect the newly revised competency areas in the coming weeks. Please visit this page again in the near future. Thank you for your patience as we work to make these changes.

Have additional questions?

Please contact us at:

Email: certification@ffcmh.org

Tel: (240) 403-1901


1. Understands the Code of Ethics and consequences for its violation.

2. Knowledgeable of and complies with federal, state and local laws and regulations.

3. Aware of domestic violence laws and regulations (including abuse/neglect indicators and reporting, child protection, adult protection, Indian Child Welfare Act, restraining orders, and custody determination), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA), Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records (42 CFR –Part 2), Americans with Disabilities Act, Social Security Administration benefits, involuntary commitment proceedings, juvenile justice proceeding, and basic concepts of criminal prosecution and defense

4. Understands and practices fundamental of cultural and linguistic competency by treating all persons with respect, dignity and self determination. Willingness to appreciate the values and life experiences of individuals and recognition of one’s own biases and prejudices toward other cultures and lifestyles.

5. Understands how to use peer to peer principles (family-driven, youth-guided, consumer driven.)

6. Knowledgeable about current and accurate trends and issues in the field of children’s mental health and adjust practice to reflect advances in the field.

7. Understands the use of principles of non-exploitation of family members and colleagues for perceived personal or professional gain.

8. Understands personal and professional limitations based on own knowledge, skill or experience.

9. Understands  peer and self-evaluations of professional performance applying ethical, legal, and professional standards to enhance self-awareness and performance.

10. Understands how to promote the field, pay dues, abide by the standards of practice of the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health Certification Commission, and utilize the CPSP trademark.



1. Aware of the content of confidentiality regulations and laws and can help the family member understand their confidentiality rights and responsibilities (release of Information, waivers of confidentiality and possible exceptions) as applies under HIPAA, 42CFR-Part 2 and IDEA.
2. Aware of  confidentiality in domestic violence laws and regulations and likely areas of differences between states, tribes and countries.
3. Aware of “conflict of interest” in legal representation, counseling and advocacy.
4. Understands the decision-making process and completion of forms related to confidentiality.
5. Aware of the purpose of interagency protocols, such as Memorandum of Agreement/Understanding, Business Associates Contract.
 6. Aware of own state’s child protection and juvenile justice laws and regulations and likely areas of differences between states, tribes (Indian child Welfare Act of 1978 - ICWA) and countries.
7. Aware of own state’s child custody laws and regulations and likely areas of differences with other  states, tribal law or treaties and foreign laws or treaties.
8. Understands the formation of partnerships involving family members and child protection or other safety related agencies in order to conform with reporting report requirements and response to potential danger or harm.


Effecting Change

1. Understands  supporting, teaching, coaching and mentoring parents in identifying and articulating their needs and goals. 
2. Understands  how to serve as a role model and appropriately share lived experience as a family member.
3. Knowledgeable in assisting the family member to find and use psychoeducational material.
4. Understands motivational interviewing and the stages of change model or similar material.
5. Knowledgeable about cultural diversity and own values and beliefs.

6. Understands how to assist family members to assess their own strengths, weaknesses, barriers and opportunities.

7. Knowledgeable in teaching, mentoring and coaching  family members to identify and practice self-care behaviors, including but not limited to Wellness Recovery Action Plan and relapse prevention planning.

8.  Knowledgeable about the grief process.

9.  Understands the principles of individual choices and self-determination.


Behavioral Health Prevention and Treatment Information

1. Knowledgeable about the type of treatment that is effective for specific children’s diagnoses, e.g. Evidence Based Practices, Practice Based Evidence, best and emerging practices, good and modern services.
2. Knowledgeable in finding and summarizing research and published literature related to children’s mental health, including as it relates to substance use, children with special needs and physical health.
3. Aware of the multi-axis diagnoses and assessments of children, including appropriate use of assessment tools and protocol.
4. Aware of the use of medication for particular diagnoses of children.
5. Knowledgeable in identifying common responses and reactions to a child’s diagnosis by a parent or the youth.
6. Understands how to assist a parent or youth address controversial information related to diagnosis or treatment, including the use of medication and treatment planning.
7. Understands about trauma informed care and trauma informed services.
8. Understands the use of peer services as differentiated from clinical services.

9. Aware of data collection, documentation and measuring outcomes in health and educational services.
10. Aware of payment and reimbursement policies and mechanisms for children’s services.


Education Information

1. Aware of timelines, procedures and regulations related to Individual Education Plans, §504 plans and §1400 (c)(14) and (d) Transition plans.
2. Knowledgeable about resources to support parents (including programs for homeless, migrants, etc.)
3. Knowledgeable about communicating written goals and outcomes.
4. Aware of procedural safeguards and enforceable regulations.
5. Aware of mediation 91.5 6.  Understands effective meeting skills for parents and youth.
7. Aware of bullying and stigma associated with emotional, mental or behavioral challenges.
8.  Aware of transitional programs, college-based programs, supported employment and vocational rehabilitation program.



1. Knowledgeable about cultural and linguistic diversity, including but not limited to race, gender, age, ethnicity, faith and     religion, sexual preference and marital status, economic and social class, language, geographic isolation, and disability.
2. Understands the holistic view of family members’ biological, psychological, social, and spiritual needs and resources.
3. Understands the value of fostering cooperation among family members and individuals involved in their lives.
4. Understands  effective information gathering and questioning techniques.

5. Aware of effective formal and informal instructional/teaching skills for adult learners.

6. Understands  active listening skills.

7. Understands  effective interpersonal communication skills, including assertive communication.

8. Understands practical problem-solving skills.

9. Understands informed and shared decision making.

10. Understands win-win conflict resolution skills.

11. Understands how to translate and communicate emotive language.

12. Aware of public speaking skills, access and use distance communication technology and electronic communication technology.

13. Knowledgeable about support group facilitation.

14. Aware of the need and process of data collection as related to peer support.


Parenting for Resiliency

1. Knowledgeable about assisting families to identify and articulate their own culture, family and individual values and how to imbed these into their life planning.
2. Understands parenting skills that encourage the child to make positive decisions and develop protective factors.
3. Understands physical, cognitive and emotional development of children and youth.

4. Understands the role and effect on mental health of substance use, violence and cognitive disabilities.

5. Knowledgeable about parental use of control, choices and consequences.

6. Understands parent-child shared decision-making.

7. Knowledgeable about crisis planning and intervention.

8. Understands life skills for the transition of youth to adulthood.

9. Knowledgeable about issues faced by parents experiencing their own mental health or substance use challenges.

10. Aware of use of mood regulation techniques.

11. Knowledgeable about lesbian, gay, Bisexual, transgender, intersex, two-spirit (LGBTI2S) issues.

12. Aware of impact of foster care and adoption.


Advocacy in and Across Multiple Systems

1. Understands people-first, person-centered and strength-based language & approach.
2. Understands the mission and tasks of service systems for children and youth.

3. Understands the mission and tasks of services systems for youth-in-transition.

4. Knowledgeable about federal, state and local agency services and able to assist family members in identifying and accessing services, supports and resources in accordance with their plan.

5. Understands funding streams for individuals and the application process of services.

6. Knowledgeable of family-driven and youth-guided and consumer-directed resiliency and recovery services.

7. Aware of role of others in children’s services, including but not limited to case managers, care coordinators, wraparound team facilitators, social worker, juvenile justice worker, counselor, clinician, physicians, government social workers, government program managers, quality assurance personnel.

8. Understands advocacy for the individual and assisting the family to acquire knowledge about asserting their rights and responsibilities.

9. Knowledgeable about fostering cooperation between family members and resources, services, supports and agencies. 10. Knowledgeable in the use of mediation techniques.

11. Aware of the grievance and appeals process for denial or misapplication of services.

12. Understands organizational behavior and decision-making.

13. Aware of system-level advocacy techniques.

14. Understands effective social and professional networking.



1. Understands how to be an informed consumer by encouraging parents to learn about resiliency and mental health recovery.
2. Understands the implementation of the use of consumer-driven, family-driven and youth-guided approach in behavioral health services.
3. Understands promotion of self-determination and coaching for independent living skills.
4. Knowledgeable about parenting skills, self-assessment and goal setting.
5. Understands  recognizing stigma, common superstitions and myths regarding emotional health.
6. Understands interventions to prevent or overcome stigma about emotional health  in society.
7. Knowledgeable about bridge building and group leadership.

8. Knowledgeable about leadership development


Wellness and Natural Supports

1. Understands crisis prevention and management for children and adults.
2.  Understands self care and wellness planning.

3.  Knowledgeable in using spirituality and strengths of culture and beliefs.
4.  Understands assisting parents to identify self, family and community strengths.
5.  Aware of community organization techniques.

6.  Understands  assisting family members to identify and build informal family and community supports,


Local Resource Information

1. Understands assisting the family member to find and use local psychoeducational material.

2. Knowledgeable about local IEP and §504 goal writing, mediation and local issues related to special education.

3. Knowledgeable about specialization of schools or location of specialty programs.

4. Understands the continuum of behavioral health services in area (prevention, outpatient, partial hospitalization, acute residential, long-term residential, transitional programs, peer support) and their approaches to treatment.

5. Understands availability of local services and agencies:  contact persons, process, and strengths/challenges of each agency.

6. Knowledgeable about local resources for homeless, domestic violence, sexual assault, health care, respite, etc.

7. Knowledgeable about local resources for children 0-6, including funding process.

8. Knowledgeable about local resources for children 6-18, including funding process.

9. Knowledgeable about for youth-in-transition and emerging adults 18-30 resources, including funding process.

10. Knowledgeable about funding streams for family members (emergency aid, employment, health, adult behavioral health services, etc.)

11. Knowledgeable about the specific local cultural issues.

12. Aware of communication issues in area, including tele-med sites and local customs of communication.

13. Understands the agency data collection process (content and style of notes, purpose, and addressing confidentiality and release.)

14. Aware of the wraparound process – benefits & challenges.

15.  Aware of regular supervision plan.



© 2017 National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health

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