Nonprofit looks to create a safe residential space for mothers in addiction treatment

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/23/2021 11:15:13 PM
Modified: 3/23/2021 11:15:12 PM

WEST LEBANON — A new nonprofit is seeking an Upper Valley location for a residential addiction treatment center for pregnant and parenting women and their children.

The nonprofit Families Flourish Northeast was founded late last year by a group of clinicians at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center with the aim of giving women in the Upper Valley and the North Country who are struggling with addiction a residential treatment option that fits their needs.

The group aims to “open the doors as quickly as we can,” said Daisy Goodman, a D-H nurse/midwife who specializes in caring for pregnant and parenting women who are struggling with addiction. “Every day is too long to wait.”

The organization is currently looking for a home for the program, which is expected to have space for 14 women and as many as 30 children. It also is seeking money to support the effort.

It’s “not going to be a small project,” said Courtney Tanner, Families Flourish’s board president who is also D-H’s director of government relations.

Families Flourish estimates it will cost $2 million to purchase or renovate a facility and another $645,000 to get the program started and hire staff. It is seeking state and federal grants as well as philanthropic support.

The organization plans to accept all forms of insurance accepted in the Twin States and to obtain a residential treatment contract with the New Hampshire Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services.

Organizers hope to find a spot close to public transportation, services and jobs, and to open the doors sometime next year, Goodman said.

The effort comes as the percentage of infants born at DHMC after being exposed to substances increased from 8% in 2018 to 10% last year, according to information provided by Families Flourish. Also from 2018-2020, 25 women attending D-H’s Moms in Recovery intensive outpatient treatment program, where Goodman works, declined a referral to residential treatment because there isn’t a program tailored to their needs in the Upper Valley.

“One of the biggest deterrents is always not wanting to leave their children,” said Goodman, who serves on Families Flourish Northeast’s clinical committee.

When women aren’t able to get the level of care they need, some are able to continue their recovery through the outpatient program, but others relapse and some die, she said, noting that opioid overdose is the leading cause of maternal death in New Hampshire.

The program, modeled on the University of North Carolina’s Horizons program, will provide care for the woman, as well as her children up through age 11, and will aim to help parents and children to build relationships with each other, Goodman said.

The need for the program has grown as the COVID-19 pandemic has increased economic challenges and isolation, both of which can heighten the risks of substance use, Goodman said.

It’s “difficult for people to keep their heads above water,” she said.

While New Hampshire has experienced a health care workforce shortage and mental health care workers are especially hard to find, Goodman said she doesn’t think this program will have trouble finding employees when its time to hire.

It’s “uplifting as a clinician,” she said, to work in a program that is “supporting the empowerment and success of the family moving forward.”

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at or 603-727-3213.

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