TALLAHASSEE, Fla.  Florida Association of Managing Entities CEO Natalie K. Kelly issued the following statement after the House of Representatives’ unanimous passage of CS/Senate Bill 282, and CS/House Bill 795, by Representatives Fetterhoff and Hart. 

CS/SB 282, Peer Specialist bill, reduces the barriers of background screenings and offers more flexibilities for individuals to become peers for those in recovery. The bill also bolsters the Certified Recovery Peer Specialist program by streamlining the training process and allowing the Department of Children and Families to work with behavioral health Managing Entities to provide and contract with the appropriate, community-based training programs and trainers that offer evidenced-based trainings.

“I applaud the House of Representatives for passing the Peer Specialist bill, which gives an individual more opportunities to become a peer for those in recovery, and enhances the Certified Recovery Peer Specialist program by allowing the Department of Children and Families to work with the state’s seven Managing Entities to contract with the appropriate training providers.

“Peer specialists play a vital role in behavioral health services, as they use their own recovery experiences to help those seeking treatment for substance use disorder and mental illness. Nothing compares to getting help from someone who has faced similar challenges.

“I want to personally thank State Senator Darryl Rouson and Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff for their persistence in pushing this legislation and commitment to Floridians in recovery,” said FAME CEO Natalie K. Kelly.

Florida’s seven local Managing Entities work with a network of almost 300 behavioral health care providers who deliver services to over 300,000 of Florida’s most vulnerable residents, including children, expectant mothers, veterans, and the chronically homeless.

Providers meet patients’ diverse needs with “wraparound services” that not only address mental health issues and substance abuse, but also assist with housing, transportation, and employment. Community boards administer, manage, and ensure accountability of state and federal funds for behavioral health services, keeping oversight and accountability closest to the people they serve.