By JIM LEVULIS
White House officials were in Hartford Tuesday to announce expanded efforts to treat parents struggling with substance abuse while attempting to keep children in their homes.
Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli joined state leaders to launch the Connecticut Family Stability Pay for Success Project. The program will provide in-home treatment for parents at risk of losing their children. Connecticut runs a similar initiative for families with children 3 and younger.
“Half the children who cannot stay safely at home come from homes impacted by substance abuse,” said Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families Commissioner Joette Katz. “I have 4,000 children for whom I am the statutory parent or custodian, so do the math.”
The program calls for $12.5 million in private funding to be paid back if goals are met. By addressing households with children as old as 6, Connecticut expects 500 new families to be served over the next four years. Family-based recovery teams of two clinicians and one support worker would visit homes three times a week for the first 6 months. Treatment is tailored to each family after that. Commissioner Katz says the team can be engaged with a family for up to 18 months.
“It also provides therapy specifically to enhance the parent-child bond and that of course then strengthens the motivation for parents to complete their treatment and successfully achieve recovery, which is really what we’re looking for,” said Katz.
Governor Dannel Malloy says the model, provided by the Yale Child Study Center, produces successful outcomes 40 percent more often than sending people to treatment or step programs. Director Botticelli says innovative solutions are needed to combat substance use, an issue that has impacted multiple sectors of the population around the country.
“President Obama has made clear that addressing this opioid epidemic is a priority for his administration,” Botticelli said. “That’s reflected in the work he’s done throughout his presidency and in the new budget he released last Tuesday which includes $1.1 billion in new funding for treatment to help people with substance use disorders access treatment, complete treatment and sustain long-term recovery.”
Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal says 129 people die from opioid overdose in the U.S. every day. Therefore, the Democrat says, the matter should be addressed like a natural disaster would.
“I am a strong supporter of the $1.1 billion that the president has proposed in his budget,” Blumenthal said. “But it’s a budget. It’s a proposal. It’s not money in hand. We need an emergency supplemental now. Six hundred million dollars, that I am co-sponsoring, I’m asking the Appropriations Committee to approve it right away just as they would an emergency appropriation for a storm, hurricane, tornado or earthquake.”
In 2015, there were 415 heroin-related deaths in Connecticut, according to statistics recently released by the state’s chief medical examiner. In 2014, that number was 327. Overall 723 people died from heroin, cocaine or other drugs last year.