Thrive by IU Health

August 10, 2021

Philanthropy builds a support for moms in substance use crisis

Philanthropy builds a support for moms in substance use crisis

Substance use disorder (SUD) does not discriminate. People of all races, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds may find themselves struggling with addiction, including new and expectant mothers. For these women, the stigma, the access to care and the cycles of trauma they have endured are often insurmountable obstacles in their path to recovery.

A $75,000 grant from IU Health Community Outreach & Engagement (COE) will help mothers struggling with SUD access residential treatment in the Indianapolis area. The grant, awarded to the Fresh Start Recovery Center in Indy, an initiative of Volunteers of American Ohio & Indiana (VOAOHIN), will help the facility continue the work they do for mothers and pregnant women – providing treatment focused on healing, parenting and overcoming substance use disorder.

Fresh Start Recovery Centers support 4 regions in total and what sets them apart is their drive to keep mothers and children together, despite overwhelming odds.

Fresh Start Recovery Center

“Mom is still the mom,” says Kevin Moore, senior vice president for behavioral health with Volunteers of America. “And we work with her to support her in that role, to become a strong parent, a good parent, a consistent parent -- even while she is working through her own recovery from addiction.”

The grant from COE, along with state support and private donations, ensures that services can be provided to mothers free of charge. Additionally, mothers undergoing treatment can bring up to two children under the age of 5 with them to provide stability and avoid loss of custody.

Kirsti Thomas, senior director of behavioral health administration for VOAOHIN says that beyond residential treatment, Fresh Start Recovery Centers work to transition moms back into the community. “We’re able to provide financial assistance to clients for things that otherwise would inhibit them from achieving their treatment goals. That could be as simple as making sure they have groceries stocked up or the items they need for their baby, so they can work on continuing treatment and focus on parenting.”

Mother and child in Fresh Start Recovery Program

Moore adds that the funding they receive through philanthropy is an investment -- in mothers, in children, in families and in communities. “When people make an investment by donating to our program, it’s an investment in people. You’re recognizing there’s a need, and you’re willing to reach out to help support and meet that need.”

At a time when maternal and infant mortality rates are alarmingly high, the work of Fresh Start Recovery Centers and Volunteers of America is even more critical.

“Without access to these treatments, a lot of our clients would have a poor long-term prognosis," Thomas says. “We’re losing clients every day to this disease, but our mission is to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

If you’d like to learn more about maternal behavioral health programs or ways you can support programs like Fresh Start Recovery, contact Kate Konzen, Development Officer with IU Health Foundation.