Dept. of Health Services: Grants awarded for youth crisis stabilization facilities

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has awarded more than $2 million to Milwaukee County, North Central Health Care, and Ashland County to support the development and initial operations of three youth crisis stabilization facilities, a new residential care and treatment option for people ages 17 and under on the verge of a mental health emergency.

“A mental health crisis can be difficult for a young person and their family to handle on their own,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “Youth crisis stabilization facilities provide a safe, supervised place where youth can de-escalate from a period of intense emotional distress, begin the healing process, and learn coping strategies to reduce the likelihood of future mental health crisis situations.”

Authorized in the 2017-2019 state budget as part of ongoing investments to improve Wisconsin’s health care system, and established under an emergency administrative rule published in November 2019, youth crisis stabilization facilities have eight or fewer beds. Most stays are five days or less, although some youth may stay up to 30 days.

Youth receive care from a team of professionals. This team provides immediate counseling and assistance to help avert an emergency and prevent the person in mental health crisis from being placed in a higher level of care, such as a psychiatric hospital. This team also collaborates with the youth’s support system, including their family, school, and other service providers, to ensure the youth’s mental health needs are met when they return home.

Youth crisis stabilization facilities may also serve young people discharged from an inpatient setting who are in need of a lower level of care before they return home.

These grants are the result of a competitive application process:

  • Milwaukee County: $1,286,958
  • North Central Health Care: $625,343
  • Ashland County: $109,808

Each agency is using the funding to build a program that exceeds the certification requirements under Wis. Admin. Code ch. DHS 50(link is external), with each program expected to be open by the end of the year. Each agency has established a plan for funding following the grant period to sustain its program.

Currently, there are no certified youth crisis stabilization facilities in Wisconsin. Information on how to become certified is available on the DHS website.

For free, confidential emotional support and resources before a struggle becomes a crisis, call 800-273-8255 or text HOPELINE to 741741.

Families are encouraged to visit the Resilient Wisconsin webpages for tips on how to help young people build the ability to manage stress and adapt to adversity.