When moms battle addiction, one of their biggest fears is losing their kids to foster care.
But now new thinking, and new programs, are keeping that from happening.
Two local residential programs helping women with children are Ophelia House in Cleveland Heights and Genesis by the Lake in Vermilion.
Both are operated by the Northern Ohio Recovery Association, or “NORA.”
Susan Prentice was among the founders of Genesis and became involved four years ago when she lost her son Christopher, a Marine, to an overdose.
“I was angry,” she said. “And there’s nothing more powerful than an angry mom.”
Prentice said the name “Genesis” means “a new beginning” and that the sober-living community has helped dozens of moms at risk and their kids.
They include Mary Hassenstaub and her 11-year old daughter, who are among nearly 30 people who now call it home.
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“That’s part of your recovery," she said. "Being with your family and having them see you sober and living sober. I know my daughter; I’ve never see her happier.”
At one time addicts who needed to get better simply went away for treatment. If family was not around, their kids could end up in foster care.
Today, that is changing.
Anita Bradley runs Ophelia House and says keeping moms and kids together “is just a great way to go.”
“Well if you do the math, you know I think it takes about $30,000 to keep a child in foster care and if you keep the child in treatment with the mom, cost of treatment is about $5,000 to $7,000 average per family,” she said.
There are other benefits, too.
Hassenstaub said having her daughter with her gives her extra motivation.
Aiayllah Hunter, who recently gave birth while in recovery at Ophelia House, agrees.
“When I have some more sobriety, she won’t even remember this,” Hunter said. “I’m just happy there’s places here like this.”
It has been seen over the years how addiction can tear families apart. But the opposite can happen too, when the environment for treatment is just right.
“And I mean it just works,” Susan Prentice said. “It really works.”