Around the country, much attention is now being paid to peer support. Many different titles are used, depending on the type of organization to which the peers are connected: community health worker; outreach worker; social services aide; mental health worker; recovery coach; promotora; youth worker; and peer paraprofessional. Little attention, however, is being given to the settings/contexts in which peers offer support.
The work of CAPRSS is based on the idea that context is of utmost importance—that is, that the most effective peer work happens in a setting that honors, nurtures, and actively supports peers. Through its accreditation process, CAPRSS focuses on those special places, and on helping the people who run them make them better. CAPRSS also focuses on a specific kind of peer support—addiction-related peer recovery support services (PRSS).
We believe that accrediting programs that deliver PRSS will:
- create infrastructure necessary for peer service delivery, including standards-driven, continuous quality improvement;
- facilitate and disseminate promising, best, and, ultimately, evidence-based practices; and
- reinforce the recovery-based values and principles that underlie peer services.
Further, we believe that accreditation of PRSS programs embraces and includes the valuable wealth of volunteerism and service-giving that is inherent in the addiction recovery community. Accreditation helps programs to continue to create volunteer work and resume-building opportunities for the many community members: individuals who may face legal barriers in the workplace (including certification) because of their histories with the criminal justice system; individuals without formal work histories; and others who simply want to volunteer and give back.
Accreditation also helps programs to that provide a career path for individuals who choose to do peer work as paid work. Providing a healthy work environment and engaging in supportive workforce development—inclusive of both volunteer and paid peer leaders—are important components of effective PRSS programs. Accreditation can help to strengthen a program’s efforts in those areas.
Last, we believe that accreditation is consistent with the philosophy and principles of peer practice, firmly grounding the focus, responsibility, and decision-making within the organized addiction recovery community. PRSS programs happen in a variety of peer services in multiple settings (e.g. community, treatment, primary care, corrections, etc.); regardless of setting, accreditation can help programs to be accountable for recovery-orientation, ethical practice, strengths-based approaches, peer integrity, and quality assurance.