Peer specialists provide employment-focused support and also serve as IPS Employment Specialists. Peer specialists also make other key contributions to evidence-based supported employment at the program and state levels.
Here we offer resources for peer specialists to participate in IPS Fidelity Reviews and to provide training to IPS and vocational programs.
Fidelity and Training Resources
Download this SAMHSA toolkit on creating and sustaining an IPS program. When considering other key roles for peer specialists, see the modules on training front line staff and evaluating a program in particular.
Review this comprehensive manual on conducting an IPS Fidelity Assessment. See pages 6-7 for the recommendation that people with lived experience (and family members) help to conduct all fidelity reviews.
Examples from the Field
Alabama peer IPS staff act as ambassadors for IPS by making presentations at meetings and conferences around the state. They discuss the importance of integrating recovery and vocational rehabilitation in ways that inspire service providers and administrators to realize that employment is for everyone. As Certified Peer Specialist Nick Sneed puts it, “To many peers, having a job is recovery. Knowing that I can go back to work helps me be healthy.” Peer IPS staff also meet on monthly calls to problem-solve, support each other, and explore new ways to meld recovery and IPS.
Illinois funds 52 IPS teams, all of which participate in an annual fidelity review. Fidelity reviewers include regional staff of the state Division of Mental Health, two of whom identify as persons with lived experience of mental illness and hold CRSS-Es. Community reviewers also are included, and are recruited from IPS programs, the state Department of Rehabilitation Services, or other service settings. All fidelity reviewers receive the same training, shadow a fidelity evaluation team member during a review, and are tested before being certified as a fidelity reviewer. Darius McKinney, Project Director of the SAMHSA-funded IL IPS Initiative, reports no major differences in outcomes between IPS review teams with and without peers. However, he reflects that there
are subtle distinctions, such as peers bringing forth important questions about the integration of IPS and clinical services. Additionally, he notes that peers are more sensitive to factors that indicate how fully an agency's staff believe in recovery, and whether the culture is committed to true recovery-oriented services.
Laurie Mitchell Empowerment and Career Center is a peer-led recovery center with an IPS supported employment team.
The Center received a contract to deliver a series of one-day symposiums across the state to introduce IPS to employment advocates. Heather Peck, a peer IPS Team Leader, led the trainings. In addition, she coordinated scholarship awards to support symposium participants who wished to attend an employment training or certification program.
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