Question: I have a question about peer support groups or groups where we teach IL skills. For example, a small group where consumers can connect with one another or learn about resources (e.g., housing), or teaching skills such as money management. These are not community outreach services, but consumer groups. It was my understanding that people attending these groups would need to be consumers of our center and have a CSR. I’ve recently been told this is not the case and those groups can be open to anyone in the community who wants to attend. We are starting to increase the number and type of groups we offer and I want to confirm this as this has implications on how we move forward.

There is not a prohibition or a requirement around who can attend, but there is regarding who “counts”.  The answer varies based how you want to count them. You need to set up the structure for your groups in your policies and procedures, and centers vary greatly on how they treat this.

I like to see people with disabilities, with or without a Consumer Service Record, attend events and be part of the disability community that gathers at a center, so that is my bias.

To count the individual as receiving peer support or independent living skills training they do need a goal (which can be a goal set by and accepted by the group) and a CSR. But there is no prohibition to others attending and “auditing” the group, so to speak. You can’t count them as receiving the core service on your Program Progress Report, but they enhance the overall involvement of the disability community. They might be some of the peers offering support, even if they don’t have a goal to receive it.

If you have folks that dominate meetings and exclude others – then you might want or need a policy to help the meeting include everyone. One approach could be to only have folks attend who have CSRs.

Who can we count in Peer Support or other group classes?

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