Wayside House, Inc.


Wayside House, located in St. Louis Park, MN, began in 1954 as the vision of Sarah Mary “Sally” DeVay, a Honeywell employee who created a home for women escaping sexual exploitation and homelessness, in essence, women who had “fallen by the wayside.” As the years passed it became evident that common barriers affecting women who came for services were substance use disorders, trauma, and other mental health issues. In the early 1960s Wayside became one of the nation’s first treatment providers dedicated exclusively to the gender-specific needs of women. Wayside House has since served over 30,000 women and over 5,700 children.

Wayside’s holistic approach addresses more than substance use disorders and mental illness; addressed are the compounding life-course factors and social determinants of health that make recovery difficult, including: multi-generational poverty, physical and sexual abuse, unemployment, homelessness, poor physical health, structural racism/discrimination, stigma surrounding substance use disorders and mental illness, and support with parenting. The mission of Wayside House is to “empower women to recover sobriety, identity, home, family, and community by providing treatment, housing, and supportive services.” Wayside continues to be committed to providing innovative, comprehensive, gender‐responsive services that empower women to recover from substance use disorders and mental illness and build stable, successful, and self-directed lives.

Summary of Innovative Program

Special Populations

Wayside offers a broad spectrum of services for the woman’s entire family through residential and outpatient co-occurring disorder programs. This program array is called the Wayside Whole Family Treatment project. These programs are open to any person the woman considers an important relationship or source of support. This may include any member of her family or community, including: parents, children, partners, siblings, friends, other relatives or important people in her life.

Program Replication Tips

These are the services available to family members and sources of support through the Wayside Whole Family Treatment project:

  • Family Orientation

    The Wayside Whole Family Treatment Project believes that women are more successful when persons who are their primary relationships understand the diseases of substance use disorders and mental illness and what is involved in the treatment experience. The Wayside Whole Family Treatment Project provides a monthly Family Orientation opportunity where clients invite family members or friends supportive of their recovery to come together, connect, learn, and gain a deeper understanding of what treatment for substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders includes. At Family Orientation, the family services coordinator and a counselor present information on the treatment experience at Wayside, as well as basic information on substance use disorders, trauma, parenting, and other topics.

    The women’s family and friends also learn about the family service options that are offered, services that empower the family unit as a whole and engage everyone to support the recovery process. At the end of the evening, family and friends have the opportunity to ask questions, sign up for specific services, tour the facilities, and meet staff members.

  • Family Day Program

    Wayside recognizes that addiction affects the entire family. The codependency, heartache and loss of trust can contribute to the suffering of both the person who struggles with a substance use disorder and her family. At Wayside, the belief is that services must focus on both the woman seeking treatment and the family seeking healing and wellness. One of the ways this is done is through the Family Day Program.

    Family and friends of women in all of Wayside’s treatment programs are invited to attend a day of programming specifically for them. The day includes psycho-education around the disease of substance use disorders co-dependency, communication, shame and guilt, healthy relationships, self-care, and other topics. The day focuses on helping family members process their own experience of having a loved one with a substance use disorder. Family members are encouraged to share their experiences and find support in a group setting. The Family Day program is free of cost to family members and lunch is provided.

  • Family Therapy

    While Family Orientation and Family Day events are important parts of the program, it is understood that many times the family members and the client benefit from experiencing treatment and healing together facilitated by a trained therapist. This is both culturally responsive to the greater needs of the family unit as well as understanding that substance use disorders bring problems that many times cannot be resolved without therapeutic support.

    Family sessions may focus on goals the client has for her recovery specifically within the family context or on goals that are set by family members wanting to heal and move forward in a healthy way together. One of the benefits from family therapy is fatherhood engagement. While it may not be possible to repair relationships between the biological parents, it is important to retain those relationships critical for the child’s healthy sense of self-worth and future functioning. The family therapy component attempts to meet that need in a caring, thoughtful, and safe way.

  • Play Therapy

    Wayside understands that children are affected by mothers’ substance use disorders and many times do not have the words or opportunity to voice the problems or pain that result. Wayside understands that children require special support in the healing process and as a result offers multiple ways to help the children of clients find their voices and receive the same level of support as their mothers and other adult family members.

    Wayside specifically offers play therapy for all the children of clients in its residential treatment programs. It is common for children to be emotionally affected by their parent being in treatment. Play therapy can help children express their feelings in a way that feels safe through play. A therapist trained in play therapy is available to meet with children throughout their stay at Wayside. This not only provides needed support for the children, but it is an opportunity to interrupt the transmission of risk from one generation to the next.

  • Additional Services

    Substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders are complicated and require tailored services that meet the unique needs of every client and every family member. This requires a respectful and responsive approach to meeting the needs that are presented. Staff members at Wayside understand that substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders damage opportunities for living an empowered and healthy life. As a result, the Wayside Whole Family Project provides services and/or referrals for the following: primary health care issues, dental needs, vocational training, financial literacy competencies, community integration skills, adult education, GED assistance, peer recovery coaching, case management, housing placement, therapeutic child care, school enrollment, parent-child relationship skills, and many others. Since the program serves women from across Minnesota, these services are provided in collaboration with partners all over the state. One of the most recent innovations is the use of telemedicine and videoconferencing equipment. This new technology allows for collaborating with greater Minnesota resources while the woman is in care in the Twin Cities. This technology can also connect mothers with family and community members who live at a considerable distance, bridging the geographic gap that exists for visitation.

    Wayside provides developmental assessments for all children residing at the Wayside Family Treatment Center. These assessments are offered to all the children who do not live on site. These assessments provide greater insight into what each child might need while the mother is in care and after she transitions home.

    Staff members at Wayside also help clients connect with in-home parenting services which they can utilize for support after they leave one of Wayside’s treatment experiences. Additionally, Wayside provides referrals for any family member or source of support to partners in the community which can address specific needs regardless of the complexity.

Policy & Financing Strategies

The Wayside Whole Family Treatment project is supported by grants from SAMHSA and the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Services are provided in collaboration with The Family Partnership.

Impact / Results

Over the past 18 months (January 2015 through June 2016) the Wayside Whole Family Treatment project has provided services to 161 family members and supporters of women in its treatment programs.

  • 37% participated in Family Orientation
  • 24% participated in family/play therapy
  • 40% participated in child assessments and referrals

Since the start of tele-psychiatry services in February 2016, 70 women have been able to utilize this service to meet their mental health needs.

Agency Contact Information

Agency Name:Wayside House, Inc.
City, StateSt. Louis Park, MN
General Phone Number:952-926-5626
Website URL:http://www.waysidehouse.org/