New non-profit organization provides professional credentialing to certify prevention specialists

The Montana Prevention Certification Board (MPCB) is now offering an online certification program that reflects the highest current standards of competent practice for prevention specialists and those working in related public and behavioral health capacities.

The Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS) administered by MPCB is now available for professionals providing services in the field of behavioral health. Certification rewards those working in the field for their marketable expertise. Individuals or professionals wanting to learn more about certification can visit

“MPCB strives to advance the field of prevention as a viable and effective professional discipline to benefit all Montana communities. Certification indicates that prevention specialists have demonstrated their competency through experience, supervision, education, passing an examination and agreeing to adhere to a code of ethical conduct.”

Karen Sylvester, MPCB Board President

Prevention strives to reduce negative health outcomes such as substance misuse and mental health problems through science-backed interventions. The field of prevention offers a rewarding career impacting upstream influences, reducing unhealthy behaviors, and promoting behavioral health and wellness to reduce incarceration and other negative consequences of substance misuse. Many might work in prevention without considering themselves “prevention specialists” such as teachers, faith-based leaders, coalition members or community-based law enforcement officers.

The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) provided $100,000 over two years in federal funds to help develop the training curriculum.

“This is exciting that Montana now offers a certification program to those working in prevention. Prevention is the key, and these individuals are hard at work in communities across the state deliver to key behavior health services. This fills another gap in the overall continuum of care, and I encourage all specialists to become certified.”

Charlie Brereton, DPHHS Director

Brereton said there’s currently about 53 prevention specialists in Montanaserving all counties.  

Substance use and mental health disorders disrupt daily activities and impair a person’s ability to work, interact with family and friends, and fulfill other pivotal life functions. Mental illness and substance use issues are among the top conditions that cause disability in the United States.

Prevention and early intervention strategies can reduce the economic burden and impact of mental and substance use issues in Montana’s communities. Prevention focuses on aiding in the development of knowledge, attitudes, skills and policies necessary to make healthy choices or change harmful behaviors.

Prevention is also broad ranging with the intent of alleviating many at-risk behaviors which include, but are not limited to, alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse (ATOD), crime and delinquency, vandalism, violence, child abuse, mental health problems, family conflict, parenting problems, stress and burnout, learning problems, school failure, school dropouts, teenage pregnancy, depression, anxiety and suicide.

MPCB will offer the CPS credential according to the high standards set by the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC). Once certified, professionals are required to strictly observe a Code of Ethical Conduct and participate in annual continuing education to ensure evolving competence in the field. IC&RC and its member boards across the world are committed to protecting the public through the establishment of quality, competency-based certification programs for professionals engaged in prevention.

Anyone interested in finding out more information about this exciting opportunity and the Montana Prevention Specialist Certification process is invited to visit

About the Board

MPCB was founded in 2022 with the mission to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Montana by providing certified professionals that local communities can count on for standardized professional and ethical prevention service delivery. The MPCB applied and was accepted as a member board of the IC&RC, whose function is to provide a national prevention specialist examination, set appropriate standards for credentials, and grant reciprocity from state to state.

The MPCB will build capacity for a supply of well-trained substance abuse prevention workforce by increasing retention, strengthening the knowledge and skills base, creating a supportive network, establishing career paths, and expanding the bench-strength of the prevention workforce through active recruitment and cross training.

The MPCB was brought into being by ongoing support and collaboration between DPHHS  and Youth Connections in Helena. It is supported by a grant from the Montana Healthcare Foundation (MHCF), and housed at the University of Montana, Montana Public Health Training Center.