Over the next five years, a West Virginia University partnership with three divisions of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources will target the prevalence of neonatal abstinence syndrome and the effect it has on children’s developmental outcomes.
The WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities will partner with the West Virginia Office of Maternal, Child and Family Health, Project W.A.T.C.H. and the West Virginia Home Visitation Program. This collaborative has developed the Appalachian Rural Health Integration Model, which will work to continue strengthening the existing infrastructure for children with special needs and their families.
“This initiative is designed to coordinate individual agency efforts into a common and stronger network that will continue to serve the state, serve groups of children and their families who lack access to services, and efficiently provide resources without duplicating effort or costs,” said Dr. Lesley Cottrell, WVU CED Director.
The project, funded by a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Maternal and Child Health Bureau, will expand the home visitation infrastructure in six northern West Virginia counties that have some of the greatest incidence rates of NAS among infants.
“Home visiting programs in WV are serving more families impacted by substance use and demonstrating higher needs than ever,” said Jackie Newson, Director of the West Virginia Home Visitation Program. “The opportunity to better meet the needs of families through expanded services and stronger resource efforts for families will have significant long-term impact on our State. We look forward to the partnership with WVUCED and Project WATCH.”
Expanded programming will address parental depression, service coordination with substance use providers within the region, social service patient navigation, and the availability of education, employment, and development specialists.