The mission of The Women’s Treatment Center (TWTC) is to provide women with a continuum of care, recovery tools, and parenting skills to maintain a sober lifestyle as they rebuild their lives and futures and mend the bonds with their families. TWTC is one of the few programs in the country that allow women to bring their children with them into residential treatment. They provide a unique continuum of care that allows them to support women in recovery for up to two years, as they move from dependence on substances toward independent living, education, careers, and responsible parenting.
In Fiscal Year 2007, TWTC served 1,457 women and 284 children. The majority of women served (74%) were African American, 19% were Caucasian, 6% were Hispanic, and 2% other. 97% of clients lived below the federal poverty level. 42% of clients who had children with them during residential substance abuse treatment had open cases with DCFS. 19% of clients were on probation or parole when admitted to TWTC. TWTC clients come from every county in the state to participate in substance abuse treatment. Additionally, TWTC has a partnership with the Illinois Department of Corrections that each year allows 15 mothers with young children serving drug-related offenses to undergo substance abuse treatment and complete their prison sentences at their facility.
The Washington Square Health Foundation provided TWTC with a grant that has enabled them to create an Early Childhood Mental Health Program. TWTC has retained the services of a Family Systems Psychologist and a data entry clerk. Funding from other sources has also enabled them to retain the services of a Pediatric Psychiatrist. The psychologist provides family therapy services to children and their parents, based on the assessments and observations of the Parenting Program staff. This program seeks to extend their current continuum of care by providing therapy services to women and their children during and after they leave the residential substance abuse treatment programs. Substance abuse by a parent places a child at great risk for physical, mental health and academic problems. Most of these women and children have received very limited mental healthcare services prior to admittance. TWTC is in a unique position to intervene in the lives of the children at an early age and for a sustained period of time because the families are in residence for as long as two years.
The primary goals of the project are: to improve the capacity of children [ages 0-5 years] with trauma, behavioral or mental illnesses to develop skills for emotional regulation and to improve the ability of mothers to manage the mental and behavioral health of their children ages 0-5 years. From the initiation of the project on 10/1/07 to 11/19/07, the Parenting Program staff screened 100% of the children at TWTC after two weeks in residence. The staff are also administering the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA) at the end of the first month in residence to those children the MHST found to be in need of mental health services. [The DECA for 0-2 year olds is designed to evaluate the attachment style of the mother and children. The DECA for 2-5 year olds measures protective factors and behavioral concerns of children ages 2-5 years and is designed to identify children with behavioral problems and to develop intervention plans based on individual profiles.] Staff has screened 64 children with the MHST and 21 children with the DECA.
TWTC believes that these early childhood mental health screenings and treatments will enable at-risk children to have the support they need to succeed in school and to develop healthy bonds with their family. The educational, medical and development services children receive at TWTC may be the first such services that they have received in their lives. Illinois will be able to reduce future expenses for the provision of special education for the children who do not receive 0-3 development and mental health interventions; foster care or juvenile detention for those children who are neglected.