Session: From Pregnancy through Early Childhood: Providing Sensitive and Effective Interventions for Mothers with Substance Use Disorders and Their Children (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

142 From Pregnancy through Early Childhood: Providing Sensitive and Effective Interventions for Mothers with Substance Use Disorders and Their Children

Friday, January 17, 2020: 3:45 PM-5:15 PM
Liberty Ballroom J, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Substance Misuse and Addictive Behaviors (SM&AB)
Symposium Organizer:
Lela Williams, PhD, Arizona State University
Sydney Hans, PhD, University of Chicago
In 2017, 194,000 pregnant mothers reported using illicit substances, an increase of 8.5% from 6.3% in just one year (National Survey on Drug Use and Health). Mothers with substance use disorders (SUDs) face a variety of challenges, which make parenting difficult. Stigma, histories of trauma, stress, depression, and disrupted neurological reward systems contribute to harsh and insensitive parenting. Harsh and insensitive parenting can disrupt children's development with long-term consequences. Additionally, infants born in active withdrawal are irritable, and face increased difficulties feeding and sleeping. These co-occurring factors create challenges for parenting effectively and place children at greater risk for abuse and neglect.

This symposium includes scholars from four different institutions to explore the impact of SUDs in mothers and their children from pregnancy through early childhood. Systemic problems such as historical, racial, and cultural biases in the opioid epidemic have created racial disparity in rates of abuse and access to treatment (Santoro & Santoro, 2018). These four papers inform and assess services and interventions that are inclusive of diverse populations and cut across the ecological system: prenatal services, parenting interventions that are trauma-and attachment-informed, hospital-based interventions in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and residential SUD and parent-infant mental health programs. The goal of this symposium is to provide recommendations for best practices for interventions for caregivers with SUDs and their young children. The first two papers inform interventions from pregnancy (paper 1) into early childhood (paper 2). Paper 1 is a qualitative examination of prenatal services in the context of SUD from the perspectives of postpartum women and health care providers. Specifically emphasized is the recognition of personhood in the patient-provider relationship during pregnancy and the postpartum period and the importance of nonjudgmental approaches in caring for women with SUDs. Paper 2 quantitatively examines parenting practices among mothers with SUDs that inform their children's development. Parenting stress is identified as an important mediator between maternal and child factors (child trauma, depression, resilience) and developmental outcomes in early childhood (social-emotional development). The last two papers assess interventions and services for mothers at delivery (paper 3) and into early childhood (paper 4). Paper 3 is a multi-level model analysis of the impact of a hospital-based intervention for mothers and infants after delivery. Babywearing results in immediate decreased infant pain and caregiver stress (as measured by heart rate) associated with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Paper 4 is a qualitative analysis of how frontline staff address problematic parenting behaviors in a residential setting, revealing a practice gap in integrated SUD and parent-infant mental health treatment programs.

An expert discussant will synthesize these findings and offer suggestions for how social workers can develop and utilize more effective and sensitive interventions for mothers with SUDs and their infants, within micro to macro settings, to improve maternal and infant health outcomes nationally. This discussion offers some innovative strategies which contribute to addressing the larger grand challenges within social work, including ensuring the healthy development of all youth, closing the health gap, and advancing long and productive lives.

* noted as presenting author
Social-Emotional Development in Young Children of Mothers with Substance Use Disorders
Ruth Paris, PhD, Boston University; Anna Herriott, MSW, Boston University
Babywearing As a Tool to Decrease Pain and Stress Associated with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
Lela Williams, PhD, Arizona State University; Molly Gebler, MSW, Arizona State University
Who Parents the Parents? Examining Approaches of Frontline Staff in an Integrated Substance Use Disorder and Parent-Infant Mental Health Treatment Program
Emily Bosk, Ph.D., Rutgers University; Alicia Mendez, MSW, Rutgers University; Debra Ruisard, DSW, The Center for Great Expectations; Kim Hokanson, MSW, Boston College
See more of: Symposia