Long-term program plans to open larger facility ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY HEALTH

CHRYSALIS TO HELP WOMEN WITH CHILDREN

December 22, 1992|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff Writer

One of the toughest obstacles for many women seeking help for alcoholism or drug addiction is finding a secure place for their children while they are in treatment.

To that end, Chrysalis House in Pasadena, a drug and alcohol treatment program for women, plans to open the state's first long-term treatment facility for women that allows their children to live with them for up to a year.

"If you have to worry about whether your kids are safe, it's impossible to concentrate on recovery," said Executive Director Meg Clarke, noting that women often postpone treatment indefinitely because they can't find a safe, secure place for their children.

Many end up asking friends or relatives or even consider placing their children in foster care so they can get treatment, she said, which causes a great deal of stress and anguish.

"For most men seeking treatment, if they have children, they have a wife or someone else at home. It's not an issue," she said.

There are no long-term facilities in the state that accommodate children, Ms. Clarke said. Chrysalis House, founded in 1986, accepts pregnant women at its Pasadena facility. If women give birth while in treatment, their babies can continue living with them until they complete the program. But the current facility, a ranch house located off Jumpers Hole Road, is not large enough to accommodate other children.

The new facility, planned for six acres off Crownsville Road, will have 23 beds for women and 10 beds for children up to the age of 10.

A therapeutic, prevention and education program for high-risk infants and children will be offered; school-age children will attend the local elementary school as well.

Need for the new facility is great, said Ms. Clarke, adding that Chrysalis House must turn down 40 to 50 women each month due to lack of space.

The new $1.2 million facility, being built with private contributions and grants from the United Way, the county and the state, will resemble four residential structures, with separate buildings for women with children and women without.

Once all the necessary building permits are obtained from the county, the project will be put out for bid, Ms. Clarke said. She hopes to start construction this spring and finish by March 1994.

Once the new building opens, the old facility will be used as a half-way house for residents graduating from treatment, she said.

Chrysalis House, a private, non-profit organization, boasts a high success rate -- more than 80 percent of the women graduating from the program have not relapsed, said Ms. Clarke.

About 140 women have completed the program since it was founded in 1986, and staff members track the progress of each woman who graduates.

The program, which charges women on a sliding scale, takes clients who have already suffered one or more relapses after previous treatment.

Chrysalis House is not a medical treatment facility -- most participants have already completed detoxification and a 28-day treatment program elsewhere.

For many women, returning to the same environment where they lived as addicts after only a month of treatment sets up a situation where failure is likely, Ms. Clarke said.

At Chrysalis House, women are removed from that environment for up to a year, while they receive support and counseling. The program also teaches parenting skills, to help the women care properly for their children.

Nine out of 10 of the women who seek treatment at Chrysalis House have been abused physically or sexually as children, an underlying cause for other problems in their lives, including drug and alcohol addiction, Ms. Clarke said. By focusing on how to help these women care for themselves and their children, program administrators hope to break the cycle of abuse and addiction plaguing many families.

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