Dear Partner,
Doing the best for the people we serve requires confronting history and learning from the past to improve. At the same time, it is those with lived experience whose wisdom is of utmost importance to our work at IDHS.

On August 9, I joined Gov. JB Pritzker who, by executive proclamation, renamed the McFarland Mental Health Center the Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard Mental Health Center. The recommendation came from our Division of Mental Health.

With this renaming, we chose to honor a woman who had been involuntarily committed to an asylum against her will – a strong woman who went on to advocate for the rights of women and psychiatric patients. You can read more about the history behind this change here.

This renaming is symbolic of our shared commitment to the ongoing transformation of the state’s mental-health system. It’s also indicative of our focus at IDHS on keeping those with lived experience at the center of our work. IDHS and the Illinois State Museum are partnering on an installation for the hospital to appropriately recognize and honor Ms. Packard.

We do that with initiatives like our Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS) and Certified Peer Recovery Specialist trainings.

These efforts grow the corps of people with lived expertise who have overcome mental-health and substance-use challenges to support others at the beginning of their own recovery journeys.  We partner with Community Colleges to offer this certification at no cost to the students.

Here at IDHS, we honor those who have fought for recovery and use their lessons to help others.

The work continues, and I’m grateful to our many staff members, providers, and stakeholders who offer the support needed to empower our clients.


Secretary Grace B. Hou

Grant Information
IDHS is committed to ensuring the grant application process is accessible and equitable for all existing and potential IDHS community partners throughout the State.
Click here to view the new IDHS Grants Administration page and a full list of Notices of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs)
Here are some examples of the opportunities you’ll find:

Transgender/Gender Diverse (TGD) Wellness and Equity Program 

The TGD Equity and Wellness program is a new initiative focused on coordinating inclusive health and wellness supports that address the unique needs of TGD and LGBTQ+ communities.

Click here to apply
Supporting Municipalities for Asylum Seeker Services (SMASS) 

Over $40M in grant funding is now available to provide support and services for new Illinois asylum seekers. The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus will manage the distribution and administration of the SMASS grant, in partnership with IDHS.

Letter of Intent is due: August 31, 2023 by 5 P.M. CST.

Click here to apply
Help us get the word out and share this NOFO on social media! Click below!
Illinois – Equitable Access Towards Sustainable Systems (EATS) funded by LFPA

IDHS, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Agriculture, is seeking qualified applicants with demonstrated capacity to provide locally grown and raised Illinois products that meet cultural needs. The products applicants provide should be purchased from underserved farmers and ranchers with the goal of increasing food insecure communities’ access to local food.

Click here to apply
This year, IDHS welcomed hundreds of visitors to a standalone tent at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield.

Staff braved the heat and connected visitors to a wide array of services, including SNAP benefits, the Illinois Helpline for opioids and other substances, the “Are You Really Winning?” gambling disorder services campaign, 988, Governor’s Challenge, IDHS jobs, Reimagine Public Safety, and services provided by our Divisions of Early Childhood, Rehabilitation Services, and Developmental Disabilities.

Each year at the Illinois State Fair, the Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, in partnership with the Governor’s Office, formally recognizes a project that has improved a community’s quality of life. Qualifying projects are sponsored by local units of government and utilize volunteer support while meeting needs and making an impact.


This year’s winner was the Village of Pleasant Hill’s Summer Food Program – a volunteer and donation funded program operating more than five years. It provides meals throughout the summer break to any child in need, from ages 0-18. No financial guidelines or paperwork are required for children to receive a hot meal and bonus sack lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week. Over 2,000 meals are served throughout the summer in a village of less than 1,000 people. Any child in the surrounding area is welcome to participate. Meals are served in to-go containers for easy pickup for families.


We thank these volunteers for their excellent community service. Congratulations!

Reimagine Public Safety Community Calendar
IDHS launched a new Community Calendar of fun and free events for young people through our Reimagine Public Safety program. See what is happening near you.
Click here
On July 28th, 2023, team members from IDHS’ Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery (SUPR), along with members from the Illinois Council on Problem Gambling, Health Resources in Action, The Way Back Inn, and a5 Branding and Digital, received the National Council on Problem Gambling’s Multicultural Communications Award.
Announced in Washington D.C., the award represents significant work on the “Are You Really Winning?” public-awareness campaign to develop marketing materials that reflect multiple cultural norms and languages. Training programs were also held to address specific cultural issues with gambling. The First Annual Latinx Gambling Conference, hosted in Cicero, IL, engaged the public, providers, and media around gambling issues in the Latinx community.


These activities originated with the first statewide gambling needs assessment completed by IDHS/SUPR in 2021, which identified communities and issues impacted by gambling disorder.