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

a recovery coach. The coaches caseworkers with special training in addiction, relapse prevention, case management and counseling focused on getting the mothers into substance-abuse treatment and keeping them there by engaging in face-to-face contacts in the family home and with treatment-provider agencies. If a mother suffered a relapse a common event in the recovery process or dropped out of the program, the recovery coach helped re-engage her with treatment, and helped her meet the legal and other requirements associated with regaining custody of her children.

At the study's conclusion, 15 percent of mothers assigned to the recovery-coach group had given birth to a subsequent substance-exposed infant compared with 21 percent of mothers assigned to the control group. Overall, mothers assigned to the recovery-coach group were more likely to access substance-abuse services, and were more likely to achieve family reunification, saving the state of Illinois $5.5 million in foster-care and other placement costs.

Reunification rates for substance-involved families typically are the lowest of all families involved with the child-welfare system. "One reason that they don't achieve reunification is that they are unable to address the core problem of substance abuse, and that really presents an obstacle toward judges making decisions to have the children return home," Ryan said. "A recovery coach increases the reunification rate by about 6 percent, which is a small but significant gain."

Often, substance-involved families are grappling with several major problems such as mental illness, inadequate housing, domestic violence and unemployment "so it's somewhat unrealistic to think that one case worker can effectively manage all those types of problems," Ryan said. "No single intervention is going to solve the complex array of problems that these families encounter. But if we chip away at it increase reunification rates, close out foster-care
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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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