Family Support Services receives the Child Welfare Excellence Award from the Child Welfare League of America after assembling a new committee. The Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Chad Poppell recognized the committee that helps expectant mothers with substance use disorders, seek help without fear, so they can deliver healthy babies safely.
According to 2014 data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, every 15 minutes in the United States a baby is born with prenatal exposure or addiction to drugs. Although there are federal and state policies to support substance-affected infants, it’s up to each city to develop and execute local practices around a Plan of Safe Care and to train local social service and child welfare professionals.
The committee’s focus is to provide the best chance of delivering healthy babies:
- Create a city-wide system for mothers with substance use disorders to get help during pregnancy
- Deliver needed services to this vulnerable population, without stigmatizing them.
The committee included participants from the Florida Department of Children and Families, Northeast Florida Healthy Start, the Department of Health and Human Services, the 4th Judicial Circuit Early Childhood Court, Memorial Hospital, Gateway and several other agencies.
To advance its goals, the committee created a Plan of Safe Care for mothers, parenting partners and their health providers. The plan spells out detailed responsibilities so all parties can agree in advance on best practices for pre-natal visits and newborn care. To ensure consistency, the committee also developed educational brochures and trained more than 500 local professionals from 38 agencies.
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