Recovery Support Specialist Certificate

Adult students looking at a project at a table

Students affected by mental health or substance use recovery have the ability to earn a certificate in behavioral health with the Certified Recovery Specialist program. Watch a video to learn more about the program.

The Recovery Support Specialist certificate trains students to become Certified Recovery Support Specialists (CRSS) or Certified Peer Recovery Specialists (CPRS) in Illinois. The training meets certification standards for education and practical experience hour and it prepares students to enter the professional field of recovery support.

The certificate is supported by an Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) grant through June 2024 and includes classroom work and an internship. The entire program lasts approximately one year. Through the grant, program support is available through tuition support, books, transportation reimbursement, computer equipment, childcare, an internship stipend and a student success coach. 

The Recovery Support Specialist is a growing field in Illinois. Positions are available in treatment centers, hospitals and 988 call centers. Salary ranges from $15 to $25 an hour.

Students seeking the Recovery Support Specialist certificate should have personal experience with addiction or mental health recovery, confidence in their own recovery, an interest in giving back to others and working in a treatment environment.

Students who are pursuing their CRSS certification will need to provide verification to the Illinois Certification Board that they are in recovery from a mental health or substance use disorder. 

The Recovery Support Specialist consists of 16 credits, 100 hours of training and education and 300 internship hours in advocacy, mentoring, recovery support and professional responsibility. Visit the course catalog to see a list of required classes.

Students must also have a high school diploma or GED and complete a written exam for CRSS. 

Internship Requirements

A requirement of the Recovery Support Specialist certificate is an internship at one of the College's partners, such as National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Trinity Services or Leyden Family Services. The internship must meet the work hours standard for certification with the Illinois Certification Board (ICB).

Apply to the Recovery Support Specialist Program

To apply to the program, complete the Recovery Support Specialist Certificate Application Packet.

Additionally, contact one of the co-chairs of the Human Services Program for additional information, support and guidance in walking through the application process:

  • Human Services Associate Professor, Jason Florin,
  • Human Services Coordinator, Andrea Polites,
  • Human Services Associate Professor, Coordinator CRSS Success Grant, Bruce Sewick,

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to your frequently asked questions regarding the Recovery Support Specialist certificate program.

The CRSS is a credential for people who provide professional peer services for persons in recovery from mental illness or combined mental illness and substance use disorders.

The CRSS professional is trained to incorporate his or her own unique personal life experiences as a current or former consumer of services for mental health or co-occurring mental health and substance use, in providing peer-to-peer mental health, rehabilitation and substance abuse services.

The CRSS credentialed professional must have the knowledge and skill that meet minimum acceptable standards of the recovery support profession, regardless of having an academic degree. 

CRSS I and CRSS II are categories of continuing education. They do not refer to different credentials or different levels of a credential.

  • Category I CEU’s (CRSS I) include education specific to knowledge and skills that are directly related to the core functions outlined above, which also directly relate to mental health recovery and the role of peer support in the recovery process.
  • Category II CEU’s (CRSS II) include education related to the core functions, but they do not have to be specific to mental health recovery and peer support. 

The Psychiatric Rehabilitation Certificate Program (PRCP) is a curriculum-based certificate program. There is no additional experience requirement beyond the completion of the coursework.

The Certified Recovery Support Specialists (CRSS) is a competency-based credential. In order to achieve this type of credential, a combination of training, work experience, and satisfactory completion of an exam are required, and the credential must be maintained over time through completion of continuing education requirements.

Additionally, in order to obtain the CRSS, a candidate must be a person who is or was formerly a consumer of mental health or substance use services.

For a PRCP certificate, any interested individual may complete the coursework and obtain the certificate. 

Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) is defined as an individual who is certified and in good standing as a Recovery Support Specialist by the Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Professional Certification Association, Inc (IAODAPCA). 

Contact Information

Audrey Savikas
CRSS Program Assistant
Berg Instructional Center (BIC), Room 2536
(630) 942-2070

Nancy Ortiz-Romero, MSW, LSW
Student Success Coach
Berg Instructional Center (BIC), Room 2557B
(630) 942-2772

Andrea Polites, MSW, LCSW, ICDVP, CADC
Program Co-Chair
Berg Instructional Center (BIC), Room 2536B
(630) 942-2103

Jason Florin, MHS, CAADC, MISA I, SAP
Associate Professor, Program Co-Chair
Berg Instructional Center (BIC), Room 2536
(630) 942-2043

Julie Trytek, LCPC, CADC
Assistant Professor
Berg Instructional Center (BIC) 2536
(630) 942-2328

Bruce Sewick, LCPC, CADC
Coordinator, CRSS Success Grant
Berg Instructional Center (BIC), Room 2E09G
(630) 942-3326