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'Recovery coaches' effective in reducing number of babies exposed to drugs
Date:1/5/2009

About 11 percent of the 4 million babies born in the U.S. each year have been exposed to alcohol or illicit drugs in the womb, according to a June 2006 report by the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare. If removed from the home by child protection, these children tend to remain in foster care longer, and chances are very low that they will be reunited with their parents.

However, a groundbreaking study led by Joseph P. Ryan, a faculty member in the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois, indicates that recovery coaches can significantly reduce the number of substance-exposed births as well as help reunite substance-involved families, saving state child-welfare systems millions of dollars in foster-care and other placement costs.

The study, part of a larger collaboration among the U. of I., the Department of Children and Family Services, and Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities, appeared in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect. The sample included 931 women in Chicago and suburban Cook County who had lost temporary custody of their children to DCFS, and who were chronic substance abusers referred for alcohol and drug assessments. Sixty-nine percent of the women had given birth to at least one substance-exposed infant prior to enrollment in the study.

Although several characteristics age, race, and cocaine or heroin use among them place certain women at higher risk for giving birth to a substance exposed infant, mothers who have at least one prior substance-exposed infant are significantly more likely to deliver additional substance-exposed infants.

The study made use of an experimental design: Families were randomly assigned to one of two treatment conditions. The mothers assigned to the control group during the five-year study received traditional child-welfare and substance-abuse services; the mothers assigned to the experimental group received traditional services plus the services of
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Contact: Sharita Forrest, News Editor
slforres@illinois.edu
217-244-1072
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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'Recovery coaches' effective in reducing number of babies exposed to drugs
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