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A new program to help expectant mothers struggling with substance use disorders has officially launched in South Dakota, and the agencies involved hope to see significant positive results.

Bethany Christian Services, a nonprofit organization supporting vulnerable children and families in the U.S. and around the world, established the Recovering Mothers with Newborns (ReNew) program at their Sioux Falls and Rapid City branches in partnership with the South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS). The program is a key initiative of the State Opioid Response grant funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

“Strengthening families is central to the mission of the Department of Social Services and we look forward to the positive effects the ReNew program will have for South Dakota families,” said Laurie Gill, Department of Social Services cabinet secretary. “Mothers who are struggling with the disease of addiction need the help this model brings to find their path to recovery and keep their family together.”

The goal of the ReNew program is to help families stay together by supporting expectant mothers with a history of opioid and/or methamphetamine use, preparing them to care for their child. The program provides specialized case management and peer-to-peer support services for expectant mothers, allowing them to develop positive, life-changing behaviors in a sustainable way. 

ReNew also aims to keep more children out of the foster care system. In South Dakota State Fiscal Year 2020, over 14,000 reports of abuse and neglect reports were received by Child Protection Services and over 1,000 children entered into Foster Care. Many times, a mother is struggling with drugs and alcohol abuse, which leads to Child Protection Services intervention being needed.

“Overcoming addiction, and intergenerational trauma is not easy,” said Vanessa Mader, director of the ReNew Program at Bethany Christian Services of South Dakota. “We will provide the necessary resources and support to help these mothers start a new chapter in their lives for themselves and for their children.”

Bethany first established the ReNew program in 2019 in Pennsylvania. Fifteen mothers enrolled in the program, some whose children had been placed in foster care. By September 2020, there was a 67 percent decrease in the number of mothers whose children were in foster care without a plan for reunification.

To learn more about the ReNew program, you can visit their website at  Bethany.org or call 1-800-BETHANY.  For additional resources, click the Behavioral Health tab at dss.sd.gov.