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Wellness Coach Certification Program Aimed at Building a More Diverse Behavioral Health Workforce for Children and Youth is Accepting Applications

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People with work experience or recent graduates can apply now for certification; Applications are open for Employer Support Grants through March 15

The Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI) has introduced a new state certification program aimed at helping children and youth get through behavioral health challenges. The new Certified Wellness Coach role was created as part of the state’s Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative (CYBHI) to increase California’s overall capacity to support the growing behavioral health needs of the state’s youth. People with work experience or students and recent graduates in fields like social work or health and human services can start the process of becoming certified now by visiting Those who aspire to become wellness coaches needing workforce experience or more education can enroll in HCAI-designated training programs in fall 2024.

The Wellness Coach certificate is free. Annual scholarships will be available to help with educational and related expenses.

The new role is inspired by successful programs and models from across the state and country, such as the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s Behavioral Health Aid Program, which created a new role to provide culturally relevant support for behavioral health and substance use needs.

This program is made possible through funding from the CYBHI, which is part of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health, a historic investment by the State of California to address the factors that contribute to the mental health and well-being of our children and youth.

HOW TO BECOME CERTIFIED: There are two pathways to becoming a Certified Wellness Coach. Those currently working in mental health, substance use disorder, social work, or child welfare can apply now for the “Workforce Pathway” to certification. Candidates taking this path to certification will also need an associate or bachelor’s degree in a related field.

The “Education Program Pathway” is for prospective applicants who are newly enrolled, currently enrolled, or recently graduated from college programs that provide an associate or bachelor’s degree in human services, social work, or addiction studies.

In addition, HCAI is working with state universities and community colleges to develop curriculum that will be available in fall 2024 for interested candidates with no prior education or experience.

EMPLOYER SUPPORT GRANTS: $120 million is available to support Certified Wellness Coach employees and interns, and supervision of these individuals. Applications for Employer Support Grants are open now through March 15, 2024, and awardees will be notified in May.

The purpose of the Employer Support Grants is to provide resources to schools and school-based/school-linked health, behavioral health, and related organizations to hire HCAI-certified Wellness Coaches and award stipends to Wellness Coach interns beginning in fall 2024.

The 18-month Employer Support Grants are available to: county offices of education; local education agencies, in coordination with their county office of education; public education including preK–12 and public school-based early education centers; and school-based and school-linked public nonprofit organizations.

LEARN MORE: Both interested Wellness Coach applicants and employers can learn more about the new state-certified Wellness Coach profession at