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Heartland Community College

Heartland partners with McLean County Center for Human Services

September 12, 2022

Heartland Community College has entered a new partnership with the McLean County Center for Human Services to train professionals to fill a vital need for mental health services. 

This fall the first students in Heartland’s Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) program will begin a clinical practicum at the McLean County Center for Human Services (The Center) in a new Learning Lab. 

The Peer Recovery Support Learning Lab is a collaborative project between Heartland and The Center designed to offer supervised clinical learning opportunities to students who have completed their classroom work in the CRSS program. 

“Students who participate in the Learning Lab will receive 300 hours of clinical practicum experience. This provides our students the hands-on training that they need to become certified as a recovery support specialist,” said Kelly Pyle, Interim Dean of Health Sciences. “This direct, supervised experience through an agency like MCCHS allows a faster track into the workforce.” 

The first of its kind for an Illinois community college, Heartland’s CRSS program was launched in the fall of 2021. Students who have moved on to the practicum have completed one semester of classroom instruction.

“In McLean County there exists a plethora of potential ways recovery support specialists can be utilized that are, as yet, untapped and undeveloped,” said The Center’s Chief Executive Officer Joan Hartman. “The Learning Lab will not only provide a core training ground for peer recovery support students but also work with other organizations to develop and support CRSS practicum experiences at their sites. Peer Recovery Support students at Heartland Community College understand they are pioneers in their field and are passionate about creating a system of recovery support in their communities.”  

Last year the Illinois Department of Human Services presented Heartland $710,088 in grant funding to support the Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) program. The CRSS program prepares students for entry-level positions as behavioral health workers, specifically in the areas of substance abuse and mental health disorders recovery. Recovery Support Specialists work in a variety of capacities, such as outpatient drug and alcohol treatment, sobriety maintenance settings like sober houses, and behavioral health.

The grant funds support resources including paid practicum experiences like The Center’s Learning Lab.

For more information about the Heartland CRSS program visit


About the McLean Country Center for Health

The McLean County Center for Human Services (The Center) is the community mental health center for McLean County, Illinois.  The Center has provided services for nearly 100 years, steadily adapting and expanding itself to meet the behavioral health needs of the community. The Center employs a comprehensive service array consisting of four core components:  a 24-hour mobile crisis team, psychiatric services, therapy/counseling (including community-based outreach services), and recovery services (which includes case management, group services, residential services, and a daily drop-in center). 


Written by: Steve Fast