(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) When you can save decade-long addicted pregnant women to the point where 100% of their newborns are drug free and at normal weight, you’ve done something amazing. But when you’re doing it all with almost no funds, your backs are against the wall.
Miracles In Recovery, a non profit group providing a wide range of substance abuse and recovery services in San Bernardino County, “treats all individuals with dignity and respect,” say leaders. And their mission statement spells out the organization’s philosophy perfectly: “Every life is a miracle; our objective is to restore and rebuild lives.”
But, how do you really know if you’ve been successful or not? That’s where Dr. Michael J. Van Ness enters the picture. The MIR program evaluator, with grant support from the California Endowment, surveyed the detailed results of MIR’s unique one-year-old Save The Babies program.
“The research backing,” he says, “was called a Capacity Expansion Grant. You know, you may think you’re doing right, but you really need an objective view to be sure.”
With that goal in mid, Van Ness conducted an extensive six-month research effort of all the women in a four-month Save The Babies program.
“The results were astounding,” Van Ness states. “Our program graduates were drug-free at the time of childbirth, and had been drug-free for weeks or months previously. And a follow up interview with each one showed that after six months, nearly all mothers continued to maintain drug-free lifestyles.” And when one considers, as Van Ness’ report shows, the local drug of choice is the highly addictive methamphetamine, that’s an overwhelming statistic, he says.
In his “Process Evaluation Report” Van Ness writes that the graduating women were asked if they would recommend the Save The Babies program to others, and none said No. “The program was a lifesaver,” says one graduating mother who had spent nearly a decade enmeshed in the sewer of drugs. “My baby and I can now live normal lives.”
“The Good News,” he says, “is in the results. The Bad News, though, is this is still a financial struggle. Remember, this is an intense four-month program, open 24/7, with a dozen women even in residence at MIR. Simply put, it’s expensive. Recently, the Save The Babies effort has been losing more than $5,000 a month.”
The major funding is from Drug Medi-Cal, though it only reimburses treatment costs for approved clients at $96.00 per day.
Despite the stiff financial loss, the report states, “For the community it serves, it is likely the program is cost-effective. Many studies have demonstrated that the costs to society of an alcohol- or drug-exposed baby are enormous, perhaps in the order of $100,000 for each case.”
Van Ness’ report indicates that the Save The Babies program is reaching the right clients and providing the right services to accomplish its major goals: “helping high-risk women to achieve and maintain recovery from alcohol and drug abuse, and deliver babies born healthy and drug free.” Notes Beverly Smith, Miracles In Recovery’s co-founder and Director of the Save The Babies effort, “Yes, ours is a financial struggle, but the results for the mothers and their babies are there. The proof is in Dr. Van Ness’ reports.”
The reports, while praising the program’s objectives and its satisfying results, ends on a depressing note: “The financial picture for Save The Babies, however, is not encouraging … The San Bernardino community is at risk of losing a valuable resource unless additional funding is obtained for this program.”
Miracles In Recovery is at 1010 North D Street in San Bernardino, and may be reached at (909) 381-3974. Save The Babies, 2316 Valencia Avenue in San Bernardino, is (909)881-3555; the Program Coordinator is Patricia Fulgham.