In reversal, state to award grant to help drug-addicted mothers

  • Workers secure part of the scaffolding that is going up around the State House dome Friday as the repair project began this week. The scaffolding is scheduled to be up in the next three weeks and the 2.1 million project to fix the dome and add lighting is due to be completed in November. GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff
Published: 8/12/2016 1:09:43 AM

The state has reversed course and will award funding to local organizations that treat pregnant and parenting women with drug addiction.

The Department of Health and Human Services unexpectedly put the “Open Doors” grant on hold this spring, leaving two applicants in the dark about when, or whether, the money would ever be released.

But money is now going out the door, department spokesman Jake Leon said.

Hope on Haven Hill, a provider that tentatively plans to accept its first patient in October, was already awarded $480,000 this month. The department will announce two more contracts in the coming weeks, Leon said.

Leon didn’t offer insight into why the grant program stalled. But he said “the department is working directly with providers poised to provide substance use treatment services to pregnant and parenting women within their communities in order to more immediately address these needs.”

The money comes out of the federally funded Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Leon did not specify how much money the department will award in total.

New Hampshire is battling an ongoing opioid crisis. The state is on pace this year to see more than 480 drug overdose deaths, a new record high, according to the state medical examiner.

Advocates say the state needs to treat pregnant women and mothers to help break the cycle of addiction. Pregnant women who abuse opioids can give birth to babies with symptoms of withdrawal.

Mothers can be especially reluctant to seek help because they fear losing their children if they admit to abusing drugs. In many cases, mothers face obstacles to seeking treatment because they can’t find transportation or child-care options.

Very few inpatient treatment centers in New Hampshire accept moms and their children together.

Hope on Haven Hill is one. It plans to open an eight-bed treatment center for pregnant women and their young children in Rochester. The organization applied for the “Open Doors” grant, and it was approved to receive federal funding by the Executive Council last week.

The $482,119 can be used to serve homeless, pregnant and parenting women who make less than 185 percent of the federal poverty limit, or roughly $30,000 a year for a family of two.

“There’s definitely an urgency on (the state’s) end, to get the money out there to help the people who need it,” said Colene Arnold, a physician and co-founder of Hope on Haven Hill. “We’re really happy with the way it went.”

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