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CHICAGO — Awarded by the Health Resources & Service Administration (HRSA), the Opioid-Impacted Family Support Program (OIFSP) is now offered at Malcolm X College, according to a recent press release from City Colleges of Chicago.

These community and behavioral health training programs in opioid use disorders (OUD) and other substance use disorders (SUD) will work to expand the number of Peer Support Specialists and Community Health Workers available in Chicago and in Illinois.

“Our city must have a robust pipeline of behavioral health specialists to address the traumas negatively impacting many of our communities,” said Mayor Lightfoot.

“These certifications will strengthen our trained behavioral health workforce helping us to fight the opioid crisis and foster thriving communities. I commend Malcolm X College for deepening health education with the implementation of this program.” 

Opioid crisis hits Black communities disproportionately

While the opioid crisis has historically been considered an epidemic that mostly plagues White Americans, that is no longer the case. Opioid overdose deaths continue to affect Black Americans at disproportionate rates.

Non-Hispanic Black individuals in four U.S. states experienced a 38% increase in the rate of opioid overdose deaths from 2018 to 2019, while the rates for other race and ethnicity groups held steady or decreased, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health. Published in the American Journal of Public Health, the study highlights the “need for equitable, data-driven, community-based interventions that address these disparities.”

David A. Sanders is president of Malcolm X College.

“Malcolm X College is a leader in health education with broad roots in our communities. We are excited to provide people from learners across the city and the state, the opportunity to work in behavioral health and expand the workforce dedicated to fighting opioid and substance use disorders,” President Sanders said in a release. 

Malcolm X College trains more behavioral therapists to tackle opioid crisis

Participants will be trained to work in teams, providing services to children whose parents are impacted by OUD and SUD, and other family members also impacted. The work has a special focus on children, adolescents and transitional aged youth in high need areas.

“The peer-to-peer support model has been proven to be beneficial to individuals in recovery along with their loved ones. The focus on growing this workforce is intentional and essential. The need has never been greater than now,” said Veronica Sek, Director of Medical programs at Malcolm X College.

Awarded in December 2021 by the IL Department of Human Services, the grant supports Malcolm X College’s Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) and Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS) pathways at no cost to the student.

Collectively these two grants offer a pathway to earn multiple credentials in the Community Health Worker program with a specialization in SUD/OUD and recovery support.

The Opioid-Impacted Family Support Program Focus (OIFSP) can be completed in 18 months; tuition and the cost of book are included.

Those interested in helping fight the opioid epidemic will have to complete two levels of academic and in-field training.

Level One of Malcolm X College program

  • Complete Community Health Worker Basic Certificate in 1 to 2 semesters (Part-time and Full-time Options Available, Fall Semester Start)
  • Includes five (5) foundational courses with an emphasis on opioid crisis support curriculum
  • Participate in an 80-hour field experience
  • Living stipend available

Level Two

  • Students can apply for an OIFSP CHW Apprenticeship opportunity
  • A commitment of one-year (minimum)
  • Part-time or full-time paid opportunities are available
  • Ongoing training and mentorship as you work towards completion of the program
  • Additional stipend available once hired

Later this year, the college will also offer a CRSS/CPRS exam prep course with placement support to complete required field hours to sit for the credentialing exam, and will cover the cost for both the prep course and the exam for students in the program.

For more information about the Community Health Worker Opioid-Impacted Family Support Program and to apply, click here or copy the URL to your browser:

For more information about City Colleges offerings, visit or call 773-COLLEGE.

Deon Osborne was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in Lawton, OK before moving to Norman where he attended the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Media and has...