WINDHAM – When mothers with addictions enter the Crossroads residential rehabilitation program, their children are often in charge of the family’s schedule, deciding when they eat and sleep and what they do each day.

“Most of the moms who come here have a lack of or no parenting skills at all,” said Randi Sheehan, clinical supervisor of Crossroads’ program for children and mothers. “Most of them come in here not even sure they want to be mothers.”

But after 60 days in the white-sided farmhouse off Route 202, the roles reverse, Sheehan said. And now, more families will get the chance to make that change.

By Oct. 1, Crossroads hopes to be home to five new mothers and their children, thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Crossroads, which houses 15 women at a time, is the only substance abuse program in Maine that allows children to live with mothers in recovery, said its clinical director, Shannon Trainor.

In recent years, only two rooms have been available for families, and the waiting lists have been long, Trainor said.

The three-year grant, awarded in August to seven programs in the country, will enable Crossroads to add five positions dedicated to working with pregnant and postpartum women.

Last year, 262 pregnant Maine women were admitted to substance abuse treatment, according to a report published in March by the state’s Office of Substance Abuse. About 5 percent of all women admitted for treatment since 2007 were pregnant.

The additional staffers at Crossroads will help pregnant women and new mothers in the program get to doctor appointments for themselves and their children.

They will help families find housing and make day-care arrangements that the families will need after they leave Crossroads, and they will follow up with the families for six months to make sure they’re sticking to their plans.

“It’s more of a holistic approach,” Trainor said.

Each of Crossroads’ five rooms for mothers with children must have a child younger than 1 year, and can have a second child as old as 10. None of the other 10 beds at Crossroads is designated for pregnant women.

Trainor said children attend day care at Crossroads in the morning, while their mothers are in intensive treatment for substance abuse. After lunch, the mothers and children work together with counselors on forming daily routines, learning about nutrition and dealing with behavioral issues, said Sheehan.

There also are yoga classes geared toward pregnant women, women with babies, and children.

Because of the additional parenting work, mothers who come to Crossroads with their children stay for 60 days. Women who come alone stay for 28 days.

Trainor said some mothers come to the program alone and arrange for their children to live elsewhere, but often the mothers feel they don’t have that option.

Expanding the program for children and mothers will give more women another option for getting help, without worrying about their kids. Trainor said women who choose to put their children ahead of treatment usually end up losing custody of them.

“Whatever you put before your recovery, you’re going to lose,” she said.

 

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

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