Community support group forms for addicted moms, babies

Curriculum will help new mothers learn about addiction as a disease

By Danielle Portteus
Monroe News

MONROE, Mich. (AP) - With a third of Monroe County babies born exposed to drugs, local agencies are hoping to connect mothers to community resources to help them and their babies lead healthy and successful lives.

The Monroe County Great Start Collaborative and partners ProMedica Monroe Regional Hospital, Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan, Monroe County Health Department and many more have created the Child Impact Subcommittee.

The subcommittee works to develop local networks, provide educational opportunities and initiate policy changes to address community issues, according to the Monroe News.

"The impact of substance abuse is a huge issue among adults," said Amy Zarend, director of the Great Start Collaborative. "We are seeing drug-addicted and drug-exposed children in our Early On and preschool programs."

Young children are coming to school with behavior challenges or developmental delays as a direct result of a mother's decision during birth.

Zarend said the committee's purpose is to help connect mothers with the services available to them.

"We want to help mom and support her," she said.

Research shows that anything the mother eats or drinks affects the baby during pregnancy, Zarend said.

"There can be developmental side effects that carry over into the school years," she said.

The plan is to support all mothers and not push for children to be parented by someone else, she added.

The committee was developed as a result of the collaborative's strategic planning process and conducted its first meeting in October. It includes about 15 people from about 10 agencies.

Wendy Klinski, clinical supervisor and operations manager for Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan, said the support group curriculum will help mothers learn about addiction as a disease, what they can accomplish for themselves and their children along with support information for after the birth.

"The ultimate goal is for the moms to get formalized treatment," she said. " That begins by getting them to come to the meetings."

The number of women addicted to substances like heroin has increased sharply. In the short term, the committee hopes to help educate women and connect them with the proper programs to help.

Published: Tue, Feb 24, 2015