Family Peer Support Specialist Training


Iowa Peer & Family Peer Support Training Program is launching a new Family Peer Support Specialist training.  The training includes online training prior to an in-person training experience.  Two Phases!

Spring 2018 Training: Iowa City

Phase 1- Online learning

Opens February 12, must be complete by April 13, 2018

(15-20 hours of online learning must be successfully completed before acceptance to Phase 2)

Phase 2- In-person Training

April 24-27, 9 am to5 pm

Iowa City

First Mennonite Church, 405 Myrtle Ave, 52246

You must attend the entire four days of in-person training.

Apply for training beginning February 1, 2018

Lodging: You must arrange and pay for your own lodging. We have secured a block of rooms at the Travel Lodge in Iowa City.  The rate is $66 per night plus tax.  Request “Family Peer” to get this rate.

Summer 2018 Training: West Des Moines

Phase 1- Online learning

Opens April 2, must be complete by May 25, 2018

(15-20 hours of online learning must be successfully completed before acceptance to Phase 2)

Phase 2- In-person Training

June 4-7, 9 am to5 pm

West Des Moines

Link Associates, 1452 29th Street. 50266

You must attend the entire four days of in-person training.

Apply for training beginning March 19, 2018

Why we are changing to a combined online and in person training format. Here are some advantages:

  • In-person training will focus on skill development and allow for skill assessment.
  • Training can begin shortly after hire by completing the online training.
  • The online training can act as a two way screening process allowing both the employee and the employer to gain information about job “fit”.
  • There is no initial cost to employer as the online training is free.
  • People who are not yet employed have no personal expense to complete the online course and have the opportunity to determine if this is a profession they want to pursue.
  • Integrating the online and in-person training into a learning management system allows increased knowledge and skills assessment.
  • Reduced in-person training days means reduced travel costs and reduced time away from work for the employee.
  • People completing the training will have access to the online learning modules for review.


A Family Peer Support Specialist (FPSS) has the opportunity to positively impact families through support and education.  Family Peer Support Specialists draw on their own experience as a parent or primary caregiver of a child with an emotional, behavioral or mental health need. They work to empower families by teaching skills that assist them in finding their own voice.  A FPSS has current knowledge of the mental health system and most importantly, recognizes the life experience of raising a child with a mental health diagnosis.

Family Peer Support Specialists provide a variety of services to families. These include sharing expertise by providing information, teaching coping skills, providing emotional support and helping parents become advocates.  Family Peer Support Specialists often help families navigate the child serving systems and help them understand available options for their child. FPSSs may accompany parents to meetings to ensure the parents’ voices are heard.  They are able to assist families by modeling good communication skills and sharing their own experiences in a positive manner.

Family Peer Support Specialists may be employed at social service agencies, clinics, residential programs and other community based organizations. Family Peer Support Specialists may also serve on a variety of advisory boards and committees at local, state, and national levels.


You must attend the entire four days of in-person training.  Training will be from 9am to 5pm each day.


Successful completion of the training requires a passing score on the final exam.  Study sessions will be available in the evenings during training.  The exam will be an online exam that will be available within 2 weeks after the training.

Upon completion of the training (including homework, exam and other related requirements) trainees will receive a Letter of Acknowledgement stating they have completed the training. Successful completion of the training meets the requirement of most agencies for employment. Completing the training does not guarantee employment. Employers have their own requirements (in addition to training) for employment. Completing the training is a requirement to pursue certification.

Cost & Logistics

This training is FREE, however, trainees must pay for their own lodging, food and travel costs. If you are currently employed as a Peer Support Specialist, check with your employer about covering these expenses.

Lodging: You must make arrangements for your own lodging.

Meals: You must make arrangements for your own food.  You will have an hour for lunch and there are many food options near the training site. Most training locations do not allow food to be brought in.

Stipends: If you are not currently employed as a Peer or Family Peer Support Specialist (and will not have your costs paid by your employer) you may be eligible for a stipend that would reimburse you for part of your training related expenses.  You would be required to pay the initial costs of you hotel, gas and meals and submit a form for reimbursement upon completion of the training. You must submit the stipend application 2 weeks before the first day of training. Stipends must be applied for, processed and approved BEFORE the training.  If you would like more information please email:

Accommodations: Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this training, please contact Diane Funk in advance at 319-467-5034.

Suggested Dress: We ask that participants wear business casual clothing during the classroom hours. Jeans are discouraged. Clothing should be modest. As temperatures in the meeting rooms may fluctuate, you are encouraged to bring clothing so that you will be comfortable. As many people are sensitive to fragrances (smells) please do not wear perfume or cologne.

Training facilities are usually SMOKE FREE.

To apply send an email request to:

  • You will receive an email response within 48 hours with a link to the online application.
  • Applications will be screened as they are received.  Training spaces are limited, so apply early.
  • You will be asked to provide contact information for 2 references.
  • Once your application is received you may be contacted with information regarding a phone interview.
  • After the screening interview you will be notified via email about whether or not you will be accepted for training.