Elgin Community College is one of only 11 Illinois colleges awarded a state grant by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to support a new program for certified recovery support specialists (CRSS) and certified peer recovery specialists (CPRS). The new offerings launch this fall with the IDHS grant covering the cost of tuition, fees, books, and other wraparound services, such as child care and transportation. The program offers a unique opportunity for individuals who want to pursue a career in human services and have lived experience of recovery from mental health or substance use challenges, or both.
An emerging new professional field, recovery support specialists will work with people in recovery in three core areas: advocacy and aiding persons in recovery with personal advocacy skills, mentoring people in recovery, and recovery/ wellness support.
“Recovery support specialists have the unique ability to relate to the person in crisis,” said Joseph Rosenfeld, PsyD, professor of human services.
A CRSS can enter the workforce to address multiple areas of need. These professionals may work with the homeless, in mental health centers, or as specially trained members of mobile crisis teams supplying additional resources for the community. They can also support law enforcement to provide 24/7 clinical response to anyone experiencing or at risk of a behavioral health crisis.
“The ‘Living Room Model’ refers to a community crisis center that offers an alternative to hospitalization for people experiencing a mental health crisis and is another growing concept in the mental health field that will utilize CRSS professionals,” explained Rosenfeld. “When a person in this situation seeks assistance at a hospital emergency department, they must wait in an environment that can harm rather than help them,” said Rosenfeld. “A living room center provides an alternative option equipped for crisis intervention, offering a safe space to rest and relax with support from recovery support specialists.”
“ECC will be the only community college in Kane, McHenry, DeKalb, and Winnebago counties with a human services program that provides a pipeline for students in this critical profession,” added Peggy Heinrich, EdD, vice president of teaching, learning, and student development. “The experience and expertise already established by ECC in the area of human services make us ready to lead the way in developing this growing profession for uniquely qualified individuals who can fill a vital need in mental health and substance use treatment and recovery services.”
For more information, please visit the Recovery Support Specialist page on the website.