Certification Competencies

There are five core competencies that embody the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) of Certified Family Peer Specialists (CFPS) and their work supporting caregivers and families. The short video below provides information about how the core competencies connect to CFPS field work nationally. We encourage you to watch this prior to completing your CFPS application. In the drop down menu that follows, you will find information about the KSAs that may be included in each national core competency and field work examples that demonstrate proficiency in each area. Additionally, we have included information about the origin of national certification and the most recent revisions made to the national core competencies for CFPS's.

CFPS KSAs and Field Examples

1. Professional Responsibilities

Skills that can be assigned to this core competency include:

  • Basic Work Skills​
  • Knowledge of Policies​
  • Ethics​
  • Confidentiality​
  • Boundaries​
  • Professional Development​
  • Demonstrating Cultural Humility​
Field examples may include:
  • Demonstrating knowledge of basic workplace skills​
  • Knowing the distinctions between peer support and clinical services​
  • Practicing cultural humility​
  • Applying ethical standards​
  • Conducting self with integrity ​
  • Knowing and adhering to policies and procedures​
  • Understanding personal and professional limitations and implicit biases ​
  • Incorporating standards of confidentiality​
  • Displaying professional appearance, attitude and communication​
  • Using self-disclosure appropriately​
  • Treating colleagues and clients with respect​

2. Systems Knowledge and Navigation​

Knowledge that can be assigned to this core competency includes:

  • Education​
  • Behavioral Health / Mental Health​
  • Justice System​
  • Health Care​
  • Child Welfare​
  • Use of Peer Services​
  • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities​
  • Substance Use​
  • Social Services​
  • Legal Rights and Responsibilities in System Supports​
Field examples may include:
  • Demonstrating general knowledge of the educational systems and advocacy within that system​
  • Describing basic tenets of guardianship and trusts​
  • Promoting understanding of caregiver rights and responsibilities in system supports / behavioral health / recovery / resilience​
  • Knowing the stages in the recovery process​
  • Recovery and resilience​
  • Managing crisis and emergency situations​
  • Demonstrating general knowledge of diagnostic profiles and treatment options​
This broadly encompassing category would cover knowledge of all systems that touch children, transition-age youth and the adults involved in their lives as well.​

3. Resources and Natural Supports​

Skills that can be assigned to this core competency include:

  • Helping Families Identify and Use Natural​ Supports​
  • Helping Families Access and Navigate Local Resources​
  • Identifying Family Strengths, Needs and​ Outcomes
  • ​Crisis and Safety Planning
  • ​Family Relationship Building​
  • System Partner Relationship Building​
Field examples may include:
  • Demonstrating knowledge of community-based resources and how to access, including funding options​
  • Collaborating with groups to pool resources​
  • Negotiating successfully with the community partners to meet families’ needs​
  • Assisting the family to identify goals and develop a plan for success across all life domains​
  • Demonstrating the ability to provide necessary information and options on resources and support in order to support families to make informed decisions​
  • Assisting families to identify and use natural supports​
  • Supporting families to access and navigate local resources​
  • Promoting positive family relationship building​
  • Creating opportunities for system partner relationship building ​
  • Assisting family members to identify and build informal family and community supports​
  • Identifying transition resources ​

4. Wellness and Resiliency​

Skills that can be assigned to this core competency include:

  • Holistic Approach to Wellness​
  • Promoting Resiliency​
  • Recovery Principles​
  • Impact of Trauma, Compassion Fatigue, Burnout and Grief
  • Wellness Education​
  • Parenting Skills​
  • Self-Care Strategies (For Providers and Families)
Field examples may include:
  • Using lived experiences to provide support, encouragement and hope​
  • Assisting families in building self-confidence / self-esteem​
  • Assisting families in building stability in their lives (Maslow’s Hierarchy)​
  • Understanding the holistic view of family members’ physical, social, mental and spiritual strengths and needs​
  • Identifying family strengths, needs, and outcomes​
  • Participating in crisis and safety planning​
  • Understanding the holistic approach to wellness​
  • Designing self-care strategies (for providers and families) ​
  • Understanding the impact of trauma, compassion, fatigue, burnout and grief​
  • Promoting and modeling resiliency​
  • Incorporating recovery principles​
  • Providing wellness education resources​
  • Reinforcing positive parenting skills ​

5. Effecting Change​

Skills that can be assigned to this core competency include:

  • Building Collaborative Partnerships
  • Problem Solving
  • Relationship Building
  • Effective Advocacy
  • Addressing Stigma
  • Systems Navigation
  • Communication Skills
  • Interpersonal Skills​
Field examples may include:
  • Demonstrating effective communication strategies​
  • Promoting family voice and choice at all levels of systems service​
  • Assisting families in asserting their rights to meet their needs​
  • Supporting, teaching and coaching primary caregivers to identify and articulate their family’s needs and goals​
  • Engaging families to identify needed systems changes or issues​
  • Strategically sharing lived experience to effect policy change and assist families to do the same​
  • Partnering with families/caregivers and professionals to build collaborative relationships​
  • Articulating the values of fostering cooperation between families and family-serving systems ​
  • Modeling effective strategies for families without being directive​
  • Reframing challenges using strength-based language​
  • Advocating in a solution-focused manner​
  • Mentoring​
  • Creating relationships that build resilience​
  • Mastering the use of interpersonal skills​

History of Certification and the National Core Competencies

In 2007, the National Federation of Families began the process of developing a national certification for CFPS's. National certification was developed to provide a structure for individuals who were performing family peer support services to become certified. Certification was developed through the work of subject matter experts from across the country. The national certification exam was designed by a psychometrician with input from numerous families. The cornerstone for this work continues to be the principle of "lived experience." In 2012, the National Federation launched the national certification examination for CFPS's. As the field of peer support matured, it was incumbent upon us to revise the examination questions and protocol to incorporate lessons learned and to reflect the evolution of the field. To that end, in 2018, the National Federation of Families' Core Competencies Revision Project began with two clear goals:

  1. To update the National Competencies and the exam used to certify the Family Peer Support Workforce.
  1. To ensure the revised CFPS credential continues to meet high standards of ethical and professional practice for family peer support services and the proficiency and competency of family peer support providers.
The final published paper and presentation regarding the Core Competencies Revision Project were completed in fall of 2019. We encourage you to explore these if you are interested in the history of certification and the development of the current national core competencies.