What is the role of the Certified Parent Peer Specialist?

The Role of the Certified Parent Peer Specialist is varied depending on the organization in which the CPPS works. They provide support and assistance to families with youth experiencing mental health and/or substance use concerns.


It is generally recognized that Certified Parent Peer Specialists provide the following services:

  • Uses their own family’s resiliency experience as a tool
  • Supports families they serve in recognizing and fostering their own resiliency
  • Provides information about resources relevant to their needs
  • Assists in identifying and supporting families navigating times of crisis
  • Facilitates family-directed services, goal-setting, and communicating effectively with providers


The primary purpose of certification is to ensure that people employed in Wisconsin as Certified Parent Peer Specialists meet high standards of performance and that they:

  • Create uniformity of core competencies of practitioners
  • Ensure professional development, continued education and supervision
  • Advance uniform standards, scope of practice and best practice
  • Promote ethical practice within the profession
  • Instill confidence with the families served
  • Allow employers to tap into expanded funding sources


While the role of a Certified Parent Peer Specialist will vary from one family to the next, it generally includes empowering those who are parenting by:

  • Increasing their knowledge and skills
  • Modeling behavior for others
  • Holding hope for change and growth
  • Assisting in advocacy and teamwork
  • Navigating service and support systems
  • Encouraging and understanding the youth’s voice
  • Providing peer support through the sharing of their own parenting experience

Certified Parent Peer Specialists as Change Agents

The emerging Certified Parent Peer Specialist workforce in Wisconsin is composed of a number of strong and forward-thinking advocates. They demonstrate the ability to give voice to youth and families’ needs to work towards better services and environments for Wisconsin families. They have supported their own families in doing such work and are passionate and driven to bring that same level of advocacy to the workplace and families across the state.

The CPPS advocates for the voice of the family and youth within the rest of the support team. The CPPS recognizes the whole family as the ultimate expert in what will work best for themselves. The CPPS trusts and respects family decisions and advocates alongside them in order to ensure their needs are met in a family-directed manner.

One of the most important values of a CPPS is providing non-judgmental support to the families they serve. Oftentimes parents and families experience feeling shamed and judged by the systems they interface with and even the systems and agencies meant to support them directly. An effective CPPS serves as a validating and non-judgmental resource to a family as they navigate the system and foster their own resiliency.


What makes Wisconsin’s Certified Parent Peer Specialists Unique?

Certified Parent Peer Specialists recognized in the State of Wisconsin complete parent peer support training, examination, and continuing education requirements.

Wisconsin is one of the first states in the country to develop a formal certification for Parent Peer Specialists. This certification went into effect in 2018. Comparatively, the Wisconsin Certified Peer Specialist credential has existed since 2010. Certified Parent Peer Specialists are on the cutting edge of family support services in Wisconsin and the nation.

Certified Parent Peer Specialists in Wisconsin, like Certified Peer Specialists, are guided by and expected to work in accordance to a list of Core Competencies, a clearly defined Scope of Practice, and a Code of Ethics.

These documents are central to the role of the Certified Parent Peer Specialist in Wisconsin. The training curriculum and examination coordinated by the Wisconsin Peer Specialist Employment Initiative is structured in such a way as to ensure a clear understanding of these documents and their application in the workplace.



Where They Can Be Employed

  • Within the Wisconsin Community Mental Health Programs
  • Comprehensive Community Services (CCS)
  • Children’s Long Term Support Waivers (CLTS)
  • Crisis Services
  • Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI)
  • Non-Profit and Provider Organizations
  • Peer Recovery Centers
  • Parent-Run Organizations
  • Schools
  • Outpatient Settings
  • Inpatient Settings
  • Hospitals
  • Jails
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Frequently Asked Questions

When can I expect to receive my exam results?

CPS and CPPS State Certification Exam results will be mailed to you within 30 days of the exam. Please do not contact the WI Peer Specialist Employment Initiative requesting results during that time.

What should I expect on the day of the exam?

  • The CPS and CPPS State Certification Exams take place over the course of 3 hours, you are not required to stay for all 3 hours and may leave as soon as you are finished.
  • The exam will begin promptly at the designated time so please arrive 15 - 20 minutes early in order to check-in and insure you are ready to begin at the appropriate time.
  • All testing centers are fragrance free environments so please do not wear any perfume or cologne.
  • If you choose to bring your phone, tablet, laptop, or other electronic device, you will be asked to leave it with testing center staff for the duration of your time taking the exam.
  • If you choose to bring a purse, bag, backpack, or other personal carrying item, you will be asked to leave it with testing center staff for the duration of your time taking the exam.
  • We strongly recommend leaving these items at home when coming to take the exam.
  • No food or drink will be permitted while taking the exam.
  • No study materials will be permitted while taking the exam; however, you will be provided with a pen and paper should you feel the need to take notes. You will be asked to return both items to testing center staff after the exam.
  • You will be asked to complete a short survey after you complete the exam.

How do I apply and pay for the Wisconsin exam?

The exam application, exam dates, and deadline information are all located on the UW-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education Wisconsin Peer Specialist Certification page. The application verifies that the application and payment must be postmarked by the specified deadline and sent to the below address:

UW-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education Gloria T. Lane 161 W. Wisconsin Avenue Suite 6000 Milwaukee, WI 53203-2602

Now that I’ve completed a training, how do I become officially certified as a Certified Peer/Parent Peer Specialist?

In order to become certified, you are required to pass the statewide exam conducted by the UW-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education. Exams are separate from trainings, occur on specific dates throughout the year, and are completed online at the eight Independent Living Centers (ILCs) throughout Wisconsin. You may apply for an exam within one year of your training. Passing scores for the exam are 85% or higher. Those who wish to retake the certification exam must complete the retake application. For personal questions concerning the exam, please contact Peer Specialist Certification Program Manager Gloria T. Lane at 414-227-3352 or at UWM-PeerSpecialist@uwm.edu.

Is the Wisconsin Peer Specialist Employment Initiative currently seeking new trainers?

As of March 14th, 2019, the Wisconsin Peer Specialist Employment Initiative is not actively seeking to hire new trainers. This decision is subject to change in the future. Trainings associated with or labeled as ToT (Training of Trainers) are employment opportunities for applicants to become Certified Peer/Parent Peer Specialist training facilitators.

Does it cost anything to participate in a training?

A Certified Peer/Parent Peer Specialist training is free of charge for trainees. However, the certification exam, run through the UW-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education, costs $50 to complete. The recertification cost is also $50 every two years.

How do I know if I’ve been accepted into a training?

Once you have applied for a training, your application is reviewed and assessed by each trainer for that specific training. You will hear back within two weeks of the application due date whether you have been accepted to move on in the application process.

What if there is no training in my county region and I am interested in becoming a Certified Peer/Parent Peer Specialist?

Even if there is no current training for your county region, the Wisconsin Peer Specialist Employment Initiative and its partners will generally not accept applications from outside-county residents. The only exception for outside applicants to be accepted is if there is a shortage of applicants within the training's respective county region.

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