The Certified Recovery Support Specialist Program

The Certified Recovery Support Specialist Program

A new grant-funded program is helping address the critical shortage of behavioral health professionals in Illinois.

Through the program, those with lived experience of mental health or substance abuse recovery can find support to successfully complete the Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) training, a type of credential one can earn in order to enter the behavioral health workforce. This training and professional development is one of the main focuses of the Illinois Behavioral Health Workforce Center (BHWC) at SIU Medicine.

The Illinois Certification Board (ICB) provides this competency-based credential for individuals that complete the training, work experience, supervision requirements, and pass the state proctored examination. There is a shortage of CRSS professionals needed for work in a variety of behavioral health settings in Illinois, including behavioral and mental health agencies, law enforcement agencies, policy reform, juvenile justice programs, schools, and community outreach programs.

To address this shortage, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) launched the CRSS Success program, a grant-funded program provided through post-secondary educational institutions. This program is designed to support those working to successfully complete all requirements necessary to obtain either the CRSS or Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS) credential and enter the workforce.

To further support individuals in the CRSS Success program, IDHS partnered with the BHWC to create the CRSS Certification & Employment Training program. This program prepares students for the certification process they must complete through the ICB as well as helps participants develop essential skills for obtaining employment after completion of the program.

The BHWC, in partnership with IDHS, is working on other programs and initiatives to further support individuals seeking to enter the CRSS workforce throughout Illinois. These initiatives will help increase access for individuals wanting to pursue the certification. The BHWC is also developing programs to support CRSS employers and CRSS supervisors to help increase their understanding of this profession and best practices for providing supervision.

Visit the IDHS website for a list of CRSS programs available throughout the state. For more information on these initiatives and programs, contact

BHWC Mission

To increase access to effective behavioral health services through coordinated initiatives to recruit, educate, and retain professionals in behavioral health.