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Joliet, Ill. – Thanks to another grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), the Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) Success program at the University of St. Francis (USF) will continue to provide full tuition and wrap-around supports for students who complete its high-quality, recovery support training and supervised practical experience.  

USF’s CRSS program, which launched in fall 2022 with an initial cohort of 19 students, will welcome two new cohorts this coming academic year (up to 20 students each in fall 2024 and spring 2025). The program trains individuals with lived experience of mental health or co-occurring mental health and substance use recovery to leverage their experience to support others facing these challenges. Tuition is free for accepted applicants through June 2025 through the support of over $1.14 million in state grant funding from the IDHS Division of Mental Health.

“Students who have successfully completed the CRSS Success Program at USF have been gainfully employed in the field of behavioral health in a variety of settings, including substance use treatment, community mental health, and other non-profit settings. Training experience both in the classroom and the field practicum prepares students to share their lived experience in a way that promotes hope and change in those they serve, advocates for diverse and marginalized populations, assists in increased access to care/treatment, and reduces stigma around mental health, substance use, and co-occurring disorders,” said Patricia Ferdon, MSW, LCSW, CCTP, CRSS Teaching Instructor and Internship Coordinator.

For more information on the program, including how to apply for fall registration, visit or contact Marcia Van Natta, MHS, BA, CADC, CODP II, CRSS Project Director and Instructor at or 815-740-3779. Student applications for the fall 2024 cohort are due by Friday, August 2, 2024. Applications received after this date will be added to a wait list for the spring 2025 semester.

About the CRSS Program

The CRSS program, now in its third year, is housed within the USF Psychology department along with USF’s Substance Abuse Counseling (SAC) program. The SAC program, an addiction treatment program, received full accreditation from the Illinois Certification Board (ICB) in November 2015. In 2023, USF was awarded a $125,000 subgrant through ICB’s Certified Alcohol and other Drug Counselor (CADC) Workforce Expansion Program to provide tuition and wraparound supports to students in the SAC program working towards CADC certification. USF’s CADC program is modeled after its successful CRSS Success program; both of these grants provide financial support to USF students as they work towards CRSS or CADC certification.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 3,300 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 53,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

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