Batavia – Recovering women seeking to be reunited with their children can be encouraged through the networks that exist among service delivery agencies in western New York.
That was the message recently conveyed at the quarterly meeting of the GOW Opioid Task Force at the recovery station on Clinton Street Road.
About 35 people attended the meeting – titled “Parent and Family Resources in Our Communities” – which was the first in-person gathering of the three-district group since January 2020.
Professionals representing Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming, Erie, and Niagara counties spoke about the services their agencies provide.
“Many women who find out they are pregnant during medical treatment or on active use are afraid to seek help because of the stigma that surrounds them,” said Jessica Podzinak, case manager at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism. and drug abuse. “Therefore, we decided to put in place a plan that includes case management, parent/family support, childcare support, and other services to provide a continuum of care for these people.”
Budzinack specializes in services for pregnant and postpartum women, and for those who have given birth to children with exposure to substances.
Budzinack said GCASA has reached out to Dr. Davina Moss-King of Positive Direction & Associates in Buffalo, who works with patients and children with neonatal abstinence syndrome who are in the neonatal intensive care unit at John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital .
“We saw that she (Dr. King) was making a difference in Erie County, and we wanted to know what we could do to meet the need in our rural counties,” Podzinak said. “You’ve trained our team and are applying the Positive Attitude Model here at GCASA.”
The Positive Attitude Model focuses on accountability and education – giving women the tools to succeed in their own recovery and, ultimately, as parents.
Budzinack said she has worked with dozens of women, including many who have an active case for Child Protective Services.
“If someone has an open case with CPS during pregnancy and it’s still active when you give birth, that baby also becomes part of that investigation,” she said. “This is to protect the child from the possibility of ‘derived neglect’ or abuse. The Office of Child and Family Services has a form that I fill out with participants that outlines a safe care plan – showing all programs and services offered to parents.”
She said GCASA has provided such services to nine women over the past 10 months, with only one infant having to stay beyond the five days required by New York State for observation. None of these children had to go to the NICU.
“So we think we’re making a difference by applying this model here at GCASA,” she added. “A lot of women – and men – are learning how to be a father again, with some young children who have also experienced a life of addiction and are now recovering.”
Childcare services are available
GCASA offers peer coaches in family relations who provide support in various areas — such as transportation, assistance in the legal system, and management of social services — and teach ways for parents and children to connect with each other, she said.
Additionally, Budzinack mentioned GCASA’s Child Care Center in Batavia, which operates Monday through Friday, allows parents to drop off their young children — from 8 weeks to 12 years old — for up to three hours a day.
“Children are trained in cognitive play — which means they learn while playing,” she said. “It’s not just a drop-off site where people just sit there and stare at the kids until they’re ready to pick them up. They’re actually a lot of fun.”
The child care program also offers special activities, such as trips to the zoo or family game nights, through the recovery station.
“We all work closely together; we all talk to each other all the time. She advised us all to just look at each individual and see what their needs are and talk to each other to see how they can be met.” It’s all about rebuilding relationships and becoming effective parents while being vigilant. .”
Dawn Stone of Spectrum Health & Human Services, a specialist who provides counseling services to those in recovery in Wyoming County, said she is working across systems to identify effective treatment plans for mothers, fathers and children.
“We work with the Hillside Children’s Center, which deals with families with developmental problems, and we also have a so-called lighthouse station, where expectant mothers who don’t have a place to stay – and who could be in prison – deliver their babies in a non-prison location,” she said. “We are also working with other counties to learn about their programs and refer families to them when they come to us.”
Big plans for Orleans County
Shannon Ford, director of communications and development for GCASA, said the local agency will open a residence for women in Orleans County next year.
“We hope to have a lot of the same kind of services available to women in our rural communities,” she said. “Currently, we are working with Spectrum to help those in Wyoming County enroll in our residential programs, but we haven’t been able to offer anything special to women and children for this type of level.
“So we are very excited about the design of our programs next. I am very grateful that GCASA has been able to make referrals over so many years to Madonna House.”
For more information about women’s and children’s programs in this area, call Budzinack at (585) 813-8583 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.