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DHCS is expanding California’s behavioral health (BH) workforce to improve access, engagement, and productive participation in BH services for individuals and communities throughout the state. Through the Behavioral Health Workforce Development (BHWD) projects, DHCS aims to diversify and enhance the BH workforce across geography, race, ethnicity, language, culture, sexual orientation, gender identification, and other provider characteristics to improve access to BH services by ensuring that communities find themselves represented in their care providers.  Efforts to fund equity and growth in the BH workforce are progressing through four projects: Peer Workforce Investment (PWI), Expanding Peer Organization Capacity (EPOC), the Mentored Internship Program (MIP) and the impending Recruitment and Retention project, slated for launch in Summer 2023.

The PWI project helps peer-run behavioral health programs build capacity and infrastructure for increased service volume and collaboration with other provider types. (A peer is an individual who self-identifies as having lived experience with the process of recovery from mental illness, substance use disorder (SUD), or both, either as a consumer of services related to these conditions, or as the parent or family member of the consumer.) The purpose of the PWI project is not narrowly to increase the number of behavioral health peers, but rather to develop such programs’ staff competence, certification, and capacity for increased service volume and collaboration with other provider types as well. PWI also helps peer-run organizations prepare to bill Medi-Cal for peer-run services.

PWI helps to expand, elevate, enhance, and empower behavioral health peer-run throughout California. The PWI grant funding supports grantees to:

  • Expand peer-run behavioral health program staffing and capacity to assist people;
  • Elevate the profile of behavioral health peer-run programs with other entities in their communities and statewide through outreach and collaboration;
  • Enhance the quality of peer-run programming statewide through education, training, and improved monitoring and supervision; and
  • Empower peer-run programs to realize their full potential, including through strategic planning, and management support.

Round 1 of the PWI project runs from July 1, 2021, to December 31, 2023, and supports 45 peer-run BH organizations in preparing to “set the table” to bill Medi-Cal for peer support services. The PWI program has a special interest in programs reaching underserved  communities, including programs that offer bilingual and cultural expertise and those in rural settings.

The map below shows county distribution of grantees.

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A map of California, broken into counties, showing grants given from the Peer Workforce Investment program.