Grants Awarded to Create Peer-Run Respite Centers in Wisconsin

Across the state, peers, peer advocates and their allies applauded Governor Walker and the Wisconsin Legislature for funding Peer-Run Respites. Organized around principles developed by the peer-led recovery community, peer-run respites represent a true crisis alternative that provides non-medical, holistic and hopeful support for healing. 

In June, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary Kitty Rhoades announced that three non-profit organizations have received grants totaling $441,666 each to begin community-based mental health and substance abuse service centers, known as Peer-Run Respite Centers. 

The grantees are: 

  • Grassroots Empowerment Project in Western Wisconsin
  • NAMI Fox Valley in Appleton
  • SOAR Case Management Services, Inc. in Madison 

“No one knows what a person with a mental illness or an addiction is going through unless they have been there themselves, and that’s the very definition of a Peer-Run Respite Center,” Secretary Rhoades stated. “The centers are designed to promote self-directed recovery, with the goal of preventing crises and reducing hospitalizations.”

At Peer-Run Respite Centers, services are delivered in a safe, stable, home-like environment by people who themselves have been successful in the recovery process. The services are community-based, residential settings with a small number of beds available for people before or during a crisis situation, or for those who are having difficulty coping with mental illness. The centers will provide resources and links to community supports and services to help consumers achieve recovery. Services are provided at no cost to the consumer.

As part of his package of mental health initiatives, Governor Scott Walker approved $1.3 million in the 2013-2015 biennial budget to develop and operate Peer-Run Respite Centers. Another $125,000 was approved for the program in separate legislation this year. Funds go toward creating the programs and for hiring one full time person at DHS to oversee them.