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Heartland College looks to launch training program for mental health workers, ag complex part of school’s master plan

HEARTLAND-COMMUNITY-COLLEGE

NORMAL (WEEK) - A first-of-its-kind program in Illinois is close to becoming reality as Heartland Community College looks to meet a growing need in the area for mental health professionals.

While college trustees approved a seven credit-hour Peer Recovery Support Specialist Program to start in the fall 2021 semester, they're also focused on much longer-term goals for District 540, which serves Bloomington-Normal, Lincoln, and Pontiac.

Heartland students would be able to earn so-called micro-certificates after receiving training in substance abuse recovery, behavioral health, and mental health support.

“This will be the first certified peer recovery support program offered at a college or university in Illinois," said Dr. Rick Pearce, Heartland's provost and vice president of academic affairs.

"Students who earn this certification will have the skills to become a vital part of the area’s mental health support system.” Pearce said in a news release.

The Illinois Community College Board must give final approval.

Much longer-term, Heartland trustees place construction of an agriculture complex as its highest priority for future expansion. The ag complex is part of the school's updated 20-year facilities master plan, which trustees approved this week.

Also part of the master plan is a Career and Technical Education building near the ag complex, a health sciences building, and new science labs. Heartland also plans to move its Enrollment, Student Services, and Student Life office to the existing Workforce Development Center, creating a "one-stop shop" for students.

The 20-year master plan is updated every five years, according to school administrators.

Howard Packowitz

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