As with any serious, chronic illness, substance use disorder sends ripples that emanate from the individual living with the disorder to others. This dynamic can be especially traumatic for families when that person is a parent, and that is why the state of Maine has combined two evidence-based programs to create the Maine Enhanced Parenting Project. While it doesn’t focus specifically on opioid use disorder, it is safe to say that the current opioid epidemic is a driving force behind this bold step. It will be interesting to see the outcomes from this effort in a year’s time, as the ultimate goal is to keep families intact.
According to a DHHS press release regarding the Maine Enhanced Parenting Project (MEPP), the innovative pilot program is designed to support vulnerable and at-risk families. In DHHS Region 3, consisting of Penobscot, Piscataquis, Hancock, Washington, and Aroostook Counties, the Department has partnered with Wellspring, Community Health and Counseling Services, and Aroostook Mental Health Center to deliver the Maine Enhanced Parenting Project. Eligible families are referred from child welfare to participate in a 16-week intensive outpatient substance services, using the Matrix IOP program and combined with an 8-week series of parenting education using the Triple P parenting program. The desired outcomes of the project and to increase family recovery and parenting capacity and by doing so, reduce the time children may be in foster care or to avoid out-of-home placement altogether.
Eligible families are those who are involved with the child welfare system and are in need of Intensive Outpatient Services and have at least one child aged 0-5 years. Services are currently being delivered in Bangor, Machias, and Houlton, with plans that may expand services to Ellsworth and Dover Foxcroft.