State program to help keep families together despite addiction

Why is keeping families together desirable even when one or more of the parents may be suffering from the ravages of mental health problems and/or addiction?

“Obviously having an intact family is better for the community, and it’s better for the child, generally,” said Center for Human Development Vice President of Clinical Services Kirk Woodring. “If we can create solid families, kids do better in school, parents do better in their relationships ... it reduces the burden on the commonwealth as well: foster placements aren’t cheap.”

The nonprofit mental health and substance abuse agency recently won a combined Department of Mental Health and Department of Children and Families grant to the tune of almost $500,000 per year for three years to establish a project aimed at keeping Franklin County families together.

CHD President Jim Goodwin said the program, to be called Continuum, will provide a whole range of what he called wrap-around services, as well as a set of residential services to be used, ideally, on a very temporary basis as families try to overcome problems associated with mental health or addiction of family members.

Woodring said CHD already offers in-home counseling for families, and this will include an expansion of that.

The DCF or DMH clinicians, schools and physicians may refer families to the program. The idea is to work with families to deepen their commitment to change, Woodring said. Whether an individual or family is entering treatment because they have had their arms twisted or of their own accord makes a big difference, and building or supporting motivation is the idea.

“I wish I could say there’s some sort of evidence-based practice that works really well for that, but a lot of that is just relationship-building and developing a trusting rapport with the family,” Woodring said.

— THE RECORDER

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