Lamar Community College to Offer Five Micro-Credential Pathways in Behavioral Health this Fall

In response to the escalating demand for skilled professionals in the field of behavioral health, Lamar Community College (LCC) is set to introduce five innovative “micro-credential” pathways this fall. These pathways aim to equip students with fundamental skills in mental health and substance misuse treatment, catering to the pressing need for qualified workers in this critical sector.

The micro-credential programs at LCC are designed to impart crucial skills and concepts within a single semester or less, providing a seamless progression toward additional certifications and professional development opportunities. Distinct from traditional models, LCC will concentrate on providing students with targeted skill sets that directly align with the needs of the job market. By earning a micro-credential in behavioral health, students will learn foundational skills to begin working in their community and earn college credit to continue their professional training.

Academic Dean Kyle Lasley, expressing enthusiasm about these groundbreaking initiatives, stated, “Micro-credentials are a good way to learn marketable skills that enhance career opportunities and open pathways. The behavioral health micro-credentials at LCC are designed to offer immediate career advancement, and they are stackable; when combined, the micro-credentials can lead to an associate degree and beyond. We are eager to help students map a career plan through our new behavioral health curriculum.”

Amber Settles, LCC’s Behavioral Health faculty member, is equally excited about the launch. Amber commented, “I am excited to see these new credentials roll out in our rural area. We have had a need to invest in strategies to meet the ever-growing behavioral health needs for a number of years now. I am honored to contribute to a broader movement toward an evidence-informed approach to mental health. I look forward to growing highly qualified behavioral health staff for some of our main job providers in Prowers County and all of the surrounding counties.”

This visionary move is made possible through the Colorado Community College System’s (CCCS) collaboration with the Education Design Lab, which played a crucial role in mapping out the curriculum via the Community College Growth Engine Expansion Fund. A significant boost came from the $15 million grant secured through Senate Bill 22-181. CCCS worked closely with the Colorado Behavioral Health Administration (BHA), gathering insights from employers, Medicaid, and education providers to ensure the programs meet industry standards.

The micro-credential pathways offered by LCC this fall will include:

  1. Qualified Behavioral Health Assistant I (10 Credit Hours): Development of entry-level behavioral health knowledge and competencies needed to become an effective entry-level behavioral healthcare practitioner and eligible to be included in a Medicaid care team. Upon completion of this coursework, students will be a Qualified Behavioral Health Assistant as outlined by the State of Colorado Behavioral Health Administration.
  2. Behavioral Health Assistant II (16 Credit Hours): Building upon the QBHA-I through service-learning experience and a deeper analysis and understanding of diversity, students develop both theoretical and experiential knowledge of behavioral health care and practice.
  3. Behavioral Health + (6 Credit Hours): Effective addition to almost any role (Certified Nurse Aide, Medical Assistant, etc.). It ensures students develop foundational behavioral health knowledge as well as entry-level crisis management and de-escalation skills, which can be applied in a variety of settings.
  4. Patient Navigator (12 Credit Hours): Development of navigation skills within behavioral healthcare services and systems, ensuring students are prepared to support clients in identifying resources. Patient navigators will focus on promoting client health and wellbeing. While not directly providing services, patient navigators are equipped with skills and competencies from this pathway.
  5. Addiction Recovery Assistant (20 Credit Hours): Development of knowledge of addiction treatment and recovery support positions through a strength-based model. The curriculum includes the required course credits for the Certified Addiction Technician Certificationas well as coursework focused on socio-emotional skills and knowledge.

As Colorado strives to rapidly expand training in behavioral health, the introduction of these programs aligns with the state’s goal to address the mental health and substance use challenges faced by approximately one in five Coloradans. The 2023 Colorado Talent Pipeline report predicts a 17% growth in positions for behavioral health social workers by the end of the decade, with hundreds of annual openings.

To cater to diverse learner needs, LCC will offer courses through online, in-person, and hybrid formats. For more information, prospective students and community members are encouraged to contact LCC’s admissions department at 719.336.1590.

Lamar Community College looks forward to contributing significantly to the transformation of the behavioral health landscape, one micro-credential at a time. | (719) 336-1590 |We Enrich Lives Through Learning


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