Recovery Support in and around Community College Campuses in the U.S. (2016)

America’s almost 1,200 community colleges offer students affordable tuition, open admission policies, and convenient locations. Historically, they have been particularly important for students who are older, working, need remedial classes, or can only take classes part-time (The White House, Office of the Press Secretary 2015). As community college enrollment evolves, there is a need to better understand the role community colleges play in supporting students beyond their academic pursuits.

Transforming Youth Recovery has spent the past six months studying the landscape of recovery support in and around community colleges in the United States, and the role that community colleges play in the continuum of recovery support for young people in recovery.

Students in recovery from substance use disorders commonly face a disruption in education and need to find an educational setting that will allow them to begin reclaiming their academic goals. More specifically, students in early stages of recovery are in need of educational settings that welcome and understand students like them, and integrate with nearby recovery support programs and services. Given their role and position in the educational pathway in the United States, community colleges appear to be ideally suited to help support the enrichment of students in recovery. The question is: How might a community college evolve to support young people in recovery and better integrate with other community-based assets extending recovery support?

This study sets out to examine the landscape for recovery support in and around community colleges in the U.S. Among those community colleges where recovery support is being offered, researchers identify the community-based assets that are being used for recovery support and compare those assets being applied by two-year institutions to those being accessed by four-year institutions. Additionally, based on interviews with those offering or trying to offer recovery support, this study offers potential models for recovery support services and partnerships within the college community setting. Lastly, this research offers a discussion on the role the community college might play in supporting and serving students in recovery and offers a recommendation for initial capacity building in this realm.