Kansas City groups rethink drug recovery for mothers

August 12, 2018 GMT

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City health and social service groups are testing a new approach for mothers undergoing drug recovery by keeping families together.

The number of infants born dependent on opioids in Missouri has more than quadrupled since 2011, KCUR-FM reported. The number of children entering the state’s foster care system is simultaneously growing as well.


Children’s Mercy Hospital neonatologist Jodi Jackson said the birth of a child can be an opportunity for transformation, even for women who’ve used drugs for years. But that hope for transformation is often squashed when mothers in recovery watch their children enter foster care.

“The substance use disorder we’re now seeing is a disorder,” said Sarah Knopf-Amelung, an organizer of KC Perinatal Recovery Collaborative. “It’s a disease. And we wouldn’t remove a child because a parent has diabetes or heart disease. So similarly, we’re advocating for trying to provide the proper treatment and recovery supports to the mother so that we can try to keep the family intact.”

Keeping families together can be costly, requiring funding from a patchwork of federal, state and private agencies for years.

National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children official Stacee Read said there’s also a potential for abuse since many treatments are narcotics themselves.

“If mom goes to the doctor, and they don’t see her take the medication, if mom leaves there and then sells it on the street for money for something else, that becomes an issue and we do see that quite a bit,” Read said.

Jackson said that the strategy could potentially end generational cycles of drug abuse.

“That’s the vision we need to have,” Jackson said. “It’s like break the cycle and we reduce the costs of foster care and state intervention and the cost of supporting a woman who’s nonfunctional. So, in the long run, it’s incredibly beneficial to do this.”