Success for county’s treatment program for moms

Anoka County has received state funding and two awards for its enhanced treatment program for women at risk of losing custody of their children because of drug and alcohol abuse.

The program, which has been in existence since 2006, originally focused on mothers who abused methamphetamine.

But, according to Cindy Cesare, county social services and mental health director, the program has more recently been broadened to include women with all types of drug use as well as alcohol abuse.

The Anoka County Board Nov. 26, on the recommendation of its Human Services Committee, accepted a two-year grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division.

The grant, which runs from Oct. 1 through June 30, 2015, totals $217,428 or $108,714 per year.

That money covers 40 percent of the program’s overall budget; the county picks up the rest of the cost, Cesare said.

“This is a very welcome grant for a great program,” said Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah, who chairs the Human Services Committee.

This week the county was presented with two awards for the enhanced treatment program – Dec. 10, the Association of Minnesota Counties’ Achievement Award, and Dec. 12, a Local Government Innovation Award from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, according to Cesare.

The county initiative was modeled after a similar program in California when it started in 2006, but the county put its own stamp of its enhanced treatment program, Cesare said.

It was one of the first programs of its type in Minnesota and similar programs in other counties in the state have since gone away, she said.

“The program has been very successful,” Cesare said.

In a report to the county board, Laurie Johnson, planner in the social services and mental health department, writes that women are in the program for up to a year receiving supportive services.

The normal length of stay in a drug treatment program is 28 days, Cesare said.

Participants are referred to the enhanced treatment program through their child protection social worker, their corrections officer or by court order, according to Johnson.

“ETP’s goal is to enhance the likelihood of success for women in treatment, assisting them in developing a sustainable long-term healthy, sober lifestyle,” Johnson wrote.

“The enhanced treatment program has been shown to be effective in helping its participants to maintain sobriety at a far greater rate than traditional programs, reduce the time to reunification with their children and result in cost savings to the county.”

According to Cesare, the program serves between 20 and 25 women a year.

And in following up with women who have been part of the program since it began in 2006, “a very high number” have stayed off drugs, out of the court system and have been healthy, with their kids at home with them, Cesare said.

When the county launched its program in 2006 with a state grant to bolster county funds, it was a pilot program.

But its success prompted the state to continue the grant even when the Minnesota Legislature was cutting funds to the health and human services programs to deal with shortfalls in the state budget.

At the time the initial grant was awarded to the county by the state, County Administrator Jerry Soma, then division manager for human services, said that half of all child protection cases in the county involved methamphetamine use and more and more women were in the corrections system because of methamphetamine use.

Peter Bodley is at
peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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