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Family centered rehabilitation
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family centered rehabilitation

What does a woman do when she is addicted to drugs or alcohol, wants to go to rehabilitation to recover but cannot bear to leave her children for an extended period of time? Even if dad or grandma has offered childcare, mom may not want her 2-year-old to be without her months on end.

There are treatment centers, both residential and outpatient, that allow women with children to undergo treatment while accommodations are provided for both mother and child. The Letty Owings Center in Portland, OR is such a center. Nancy Anderson, co-founder, had the idea when her own sister wanted to recover from cocaine addiction but did not want to leave her 5-year-old child.  The women searched for a facility that might allow children to accompany parents during treatment but found none.

While driving her sister to AA meetings, Anderson noticed the number of children present due to lack of child care. She discovered that Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon was planning to open a treatment center for women so she contacted the director and suggested allowing women to bring their children. Ms. Anderson also mentioned allowing children would be a good incentive for women to attend the rehabilitation program. It could also ultimately prevent some from being jailed and forcibly separated from their children.

Letty Owings, a doctor’s wife in Lake Oswego, helped with fundraising.  Meanwhile, Anderson visited the few facilities that allowed children, including the Austin Family House in Texas which opened in the mid 80s with state and federal funding.  In 1991, all states began receiving federal funding for gender specific treatment, with particular focus on pregnant women. The funding allowed the Letty Owings Center to establish itself in a former nursing home, with room for 27 women and 18 children.  Eventually the center purchased five apartment buildings to provide post-treatment housing.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services reports:

  • 3.9 percent of residential treatment facilities nationwide offer beds for children
  • 7.7 percent offer child care
  • 12.7 percent offer programs for pregnant or postpartum women

Many patients at Letty Owings are from homes where addiction is commonplace and the homes have no parenting role models; thus parenting classes are part of the program.

The Midwestern Connecticut Council of Alcoholism, Inc.(MCCA), headquartered in Danbury, CT and established in 1972 CT, is a non-profit community based organization that has an outpatient treatment program for women who are pregnant, postpartum or have children. The program allows mothers to bring their children with them to treatment and be comfortable knowing they are well cared for while treatment takes place. Mothers of children with fetal alcohol syndrome and drug exposed infants are taught parenting skills geared to the specific needs of their children. The goal of the program is to “provide intensive, structured chemical abuse and dependence treatment in order to assist women in maintaining abstinence, improving relationships and becoming a better parent.” Many women are motivated to abandon substance abuse and find access to treatment so they can be a good example for their children and care for them.

The Austin Family House in Texas utilizes a nearby state-approved child care program during the mornings for children under six years old and has a playroom and playground onsite at the rehabilitation house in the afternoons where they are cared for while their mothers go through treatment. Mothers know their children are in good hands, which enables them to focus on recovery free of worry. Accommodations allow families to stay together and a state grant allows women 90 or more days of treatment and special therapy for their children.

The opportunities these women have allow them to recover from substance abuse, learn life and parenting skills and establish good bonds with their young children.  If such facilities were available across the United States it could seriously improve the lives of women with substance abuse problems and enhance the lives of their children.

Sovereign Health treats addiction, mental health disorders and behavioral problems. Our Arizona facility is designed specifically for women with an emphasis on trauma treatment and dealing with stress.  If you or a family member is seeking help for an addiction or mental health disorder, please call 866-598-5662 to speak with a member of our team. They will be happy to assist you.

Written by Veronica McNamara Sovereign Health Group writer

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