IDHS awards 11 colleges $4 million in cannabis-funded grants


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The funding from these grants will help students in behavioral health pay for tuition, textbooks and other fees.

By Northern Star Staff

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) announced on March 21 that it has awarded $4 million in grant funding to support the Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) Success program. 

The CRSS Success program is meant to prepare students for entry-level positions as behavioral health workers, particularly in the fields of mental health and substance use recovery. Managed through the IDHS’s Division of Mental Health, the program was created by the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, signed into law in 2019 by Gov. Pritzker. It is funded by adult-use cannabis revenue. 

11 tertiary education institutions across Illinois received CRSS Recovery Specialist Program grants, including NIU. The creation of this program will expand the amount of specialists who can begin to address the effects of the war on drugs and assist residents across Illinois.

“The Recovery Support Specialist program is a triple-win,” said Grace B. Hou, secretary for the IDHS. “It provides quality training and education for individuals in recovery. Individuals who complete the training will provide quality services for people with mental health and substance use challenges. The behavioral health workforce will benefit from the addition of these skilled workers.”

Where the funding goes

Students in the program will receive funding that assists with tuition, textbook costs, application fees, as well as childcare and transportation costs. The program can provide post-secondary education for up to 600 individuals with experience in mental health and/or substance use recovery to enter the behavioral health workforce. 

“These grants allow for the colleges and universities to advance the CRSS Success program with more resources to support students, including funded practicum experiences and assistance with tuition, books, fees and certification costs,” said David Albert, director of IDHS’s Division of Mental Health. 

Students can apply for the program within the colleges and universities that received grants.