2022 Florida Statutes< Back to Statute Search
Title XXIX PUBLIC HEALTH
Chapter 397 SUBSTANCE ABUSE SERVICES
SECTION 417Peer specialists.
397.417 Peer specialists.—
(1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT.—
(a) The Legislature finds that:
1. The ability to provide adequate behavioral health services is limited by a shortage of professionals and paraprofessionals.
2. The state is experiencing an increase in opioid addictions, many of which prove fatal.
3. Peer specialists provide effective support services because they share common life experiences with the persons they assist.
4. Peer specialists promote a sense of community among those in recovery.
5. Research has shown that peer support facilitates recovery and reduces health care costs.
6. Persons who are otherwise qualified to serve as peer specialists may have a criminal history that prevents them from meeting background screening requirements.
(b) The Legislature intends to expand the use of peer specialists as a cost-effective means of providing services. The Legislature also intends to ensure that peer specialists meet specified qualifications and modified background screening requirements and are adequately reimbursed for their services.
(2) QUALIFICATIONS.—A person may seek certification as a peer specialist if he or she has been in recovery from a substance use disorder or mental illness for the past 2 years or if he or she is a family member or caregiver of a person with a substance use disorder or mental illness.
(3) DUTIES OF THE DEPARTMENT.—
(a) The department shall designate managing entities to either conduct peer specialist training or contract with a provider for peer specialist training. The training must be approved by a third-party credentialing entity approved by the department pursuant to paragraph (b). The managing entities must give preference to trainers who are certified peer specialists.
(b) The department shall approve one or more third-party credentialing entities for the purposes of certifying peer specialists, approving training programs for individuals seeking certification as peer specialists, approving continuing education programs, and establishing the minimum requirements and standards that applicants must achieve to maintain certification. To obtain approval, the third-party credentialing entity must demonstrate compliance with nationally recognized standards for developing and administering professional certification programs to certify peer specialists.
(c) The department must ensure that background screening required for achieving certification is conducted as provided in subsection (4). Such background screening may not be conducted by third-party credentialing entities.
(d) The department shall require that a peer specialist providing recovery support services be certified; however, an individual who is not certified may provide recovery support services as a peer specialist for up to 1 year if he or she is working toward certification and is supervised by a qualified professional or by a certified peer specialist who has at least 2 years of full-time experience as a peer specialist at a licensed behavioral health organization.
(4) BACKGROUND SCREENING.—
(a) A peer specialist, or an individual who is working toward certification and providing recovery support services as provided in subsection (3), must have completed or have been lawfully released from confinement, supervision, or any nonmonetary condition imposed by the court for any felony and must undergo a background screening as a condition of initial and continued employment. The applicant must submit a full set of fingerprints to the department or to a vendor, an entity, or an agency that enters into an agreement with the Department of Law Enforcement as provided in s. 943.053(13). The department, vendor, entity, or agency shall forward the fingerprints to the Department of Law Enforcement for state processing, and the Department of Law Enforcement shall forward the fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for national processing. The department shall screen the results to determine if a peer specialist meets certification requirements. The applicant is responsible for all fees charged in connection with state and federal fingerprint processing and retention. The state cost for fingerprint processing shall be as provided in s. 943.053(3)(e) for records provided to persons or entities other than those specified as exceptions therein. Fingerprints submitted to the Department of Law Enforcement pursuant to this paragraph shall be retained as provided in s. 435.12 and, when the Department of Law Enforcement begins participation in the program, enrolled in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s national retained fingerprint arrest notification program as provided in s. 943.05(4). Any arrest record identified must be reported to the department.
(b) The department or the Agency for Health Care Administration, as applicable, may contract with one or more vendors to perform all or part of the electronic fingerprinting pursuant to this section. Such contracts must ensure that the owners and personnel of the vendor performing the electronic fingerprinting are qualified and will ensure the integrity and security of all personal identifying information.
(c) Vendors who submit fingerprints on behalf of employers must:
1. Meet the requirements of s. 943.053; and
2. Have the ability to communicate electronically with the state agency accepting screening results from the Department of Law Enforcement and provide the applicant’s full first name, middle initial, and last name; social security number or individual taxpayer identification number; date of birth; mailing address; sex; and race.
(d) The background screening conducted under this subsection must ensure that a peer specialist has not, during the previous 3 years, been arrested for and is awaiting final disposition of, been found guilty of, regardless of adjudication, or entered a plea of nolo contendere or guilty to, or been adjudicated delinquent and the record has not been sealed or expunged for, any felony.
(e) The background screening conducted under this subsection must ensure that a peer specialist has not been arrested for and is awaiting final disposition of, found guilty of, regardless of adjudication, or entered a plea of nolo contendere or guilty to, or been adjudicated delinquent and the record has not been sealed or expunged for, any offense prohibited under any of the following state laws or similar laws of another jurisdiction:
1. Section 393.135, relating to sexual misconduct with certain developmentally disabled clients and reporting of such sexual misconduct.
2. Section 394.4593, relating to sexual misconduct with certain mental health patients and reporting of such sexual misconduct.
3. Section 409.920, relating to Medicaid provider fraud, if the offense was a felony of the first or second degree.
4. Section 415.111, relating to abuse, neglect, or exploitation of vulnerable adults.
5. Any offense that constitutes domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28.
6. Section 777.04, relating to attempts, solicitation, and conspiracy to commit an offense listed in this paragraph.
7. Section 782.04, relating to murder.
8. Section 782.07, relating to manslaughter; aggravated manslaughter of an elderly person or a disabled adult; aggravated manslaughter of a child; or aggravated manslaughter of an officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, or a paramedic.
9. Section 782.071, relating to vehicular homicide.
10. Section 782.09, relating to killing an unborn child by injury to the mother.
11. Chapter 784, relating to assault, battery, and culpable negligence, if the offense was a felony.
12. Section 787.01, relating to kidnapping.
13. Section 787.02, relating to false imprisonment.
14. Section 787.025, relating to luring or enticing a child.
15. Section 787.04(2), relating to leading, taking, enticing, or removing a minor beyond state limits, or concealing the location of a minor, with criminal intent pending custody proceedings.
16. Section 787.04(3), relating to leading, taking, enticing, or removing a minor beyond state limits, or concealing the location of a minor, with criminal intent pending dependency proceedings or proceedings concerning alleged abuse or neglect of a minor.
17. Section 790.115(1), relating to exhibiting firearms or weapons within 1,000 feet of a school.
18. Section 790.115(2)(b), relating to possessing an electric weapon or device, a destructive device, or any other weapon on school property.
19. Section 794.011, relating to sexual battery.
20. Former s. 794.041, relating to prohibited acts of persons in familial or custodial authority.
21. Section 794.05, relating to unlawful sexual activity with certain minors.
22. Section 794.08, relating to female genital mutilation.
23. Section 796.07, relating to procuring another to commit prostitution, except for those offenses expunged pursuant to s. 943.0583.
24. Section 798.02, relating to lewd and lascivious behavior.
25. Chapter 800, relating to lewdness and indecent exposure.
26. Section 806.01, relating to arson.
27. Section 810.02, relating to burglary, if the offense was a felony of the first degree.
28. Section 810.14, relating to voyeurism, if the offense was a felony.
29. Section 810.145, relating to video voyeurism, if the offense was a felony.
30. Section 812.13, relating to robbery.
31. Section 812.131, relating to robbery by sudden snatching.
32. Section 812.133, relating to carjacking.
33. Section 812.135, relating to home-invasion robbery.
34. Section 817.034, relating to communications fraud, if the offense was a felony of the first degree.
35. Section 817.234, relating to false and fraudulent insurance claims, if the offense was a felony of the first or second degree.
36. Section 817.50, relating to fraudulently obtaining goods or services from a health care provider and false reports of a communicable disease.
37. Section 817.505, relating to patient brokering.
38. Section 817.568, relating to fraudulent use of personal identification, if the offense was a felony of the first or second degree.
39. Section 825.102, relating to abuse, aggravated abuse, or neglect of an elderly person or a disabled adult.
40. Section 825.1025, relating to lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of an elderly person or a disabled person.
41. Section 825.103, relating to exploitation of an elderly person or a disabled adult, if the offense was a felony.
42. Section 826.04, relating to incest.
43. Section 827.03, relating to child abuse, aggravated child abuse, or neglect of a child.
44. Section 827.04, relating to contributing to the delinquency or dependency of a child.
45. Former s. 827.05, relating to negligent treatment of children.
46. Section 827.071, relating to sexual performance by a child.
47. Section 831.30, relating to fraud in obtaining medicinal drugs.
48. Section 831.31, relating to the sale; manufacture; delivery; or possession with intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver of any counterfeit controlled substance, if the offense was a felony.
49. Section 843.01, relating to resisting arrest with violence.
50. Section 843.025, relating to depriving a law enforcement, correctional, or correctional probation officer of the means of protection or communication.
51. Section 843.12, relating to aiding in an escape.
52. Section 843.13, relating to aiding in the escape of juvenile inmates of correctional institutions.
53. Chapter 847, relating to obscenity.
54. Section 874.05, relating to encouraging or recruiting another to join a criminal gang.
55. Chapter 893, relating to drug abuse prevention and control, if the offense was a felony of the second degree or greater severity.
56. Section 895.03, relating to racketeering and collection of unlawful debts.
57. Section 896.101, relating to the Florida Money Laundering Act.
58. Section 916.1075, relating to sexual misconduct with certain forensic clients and reporting of such sexual misconduct.
59. Section 944.35(3), relating to inflicting cruel or inhuman treatment on an inmate resulting in great bodily harm.
60. Section 944.40, relating to escape.
61. Section 944.46, relating to harboring, concealing, or aiding an escaped prisoner.
62. Section 944.47, relating to introduction of contraband into a correctional institution.
63. Section 985.701, relating to sexual misconduct in juvenile justice programs.
64. Section 985.711, relating to introduction of contraband into a detention facility.
(5) EXEMPTION REQUESTS.—A person who wishes to become a peer specialist and is disqualified under subsection (4) may request an exemption from disqualification pursuant to s. 435.07 from the department or the Agency for Health Care Administration, as applicable.
(6) GRANDFATHER CLAUSE.—A peer specialist certified as of July 1, 2022, is deemed to satisfy the requirements of this section; however, such peer specialists must comply with the minimum standards and requirements needed to maintain certification established pursuant to subsection (3).
History.—s. 6, ch. 2019-159; s. 3, ch. 2022-13.