By Jennifer Hancock, President and CEO of Volunteers of America Mid-States
When Emilee’s nine-month old son is restless or crying, he hears a familiar song.
“Who built the ark? Noah did.”
Noah likes to hear his name, so he usually smiles and calms down. That an adorable baby boy enjoys hearing a song with his name in it might not be so unusual. What makes this familiar song special is that it is often sung not only by his mother, but by a whole chorus of moms who love and support him.
Noah is serenaded by the moms living at VOA Recovery, a residential and outpatient facility that is a key part of Volunteers of America’s expansion to confront the opioid and addiction epidemic. For the new moms at VOA Recovery, it is more than a place to live. It’s a place where they count on each other; a place they feel safe and supported while they overcome addiction. When moms-to-be have access to the treatment they need to get sober, their babies are more likely to be born healthy and the family is more likely to stay safely together.
Kentucky has the second highest rate of women incarcerated in federal and state prisons and 70.6 percent of women in the state’s custody are mothers. More than half of those mothers are locked up for low-level offenses, with nearly a third serving time for a drug crime. Female inmates are more likely to have substance abuse issues, but often less likely to have access to the treatment they need while incarcerated. Senate Bill 133 would address that gap by allowing pregnant inmates to access inpatient substance use treatment while awaiting trial. This measure, championed by Senator Julie Raque Adams, allows these mothers-to-be to address substance problems and give their baby a chance to be healthy.
VOA Recovery can only help moms struggling with addiction if they are able to come through our doors. SB 133 allows that opportunity for recovery for these moms and their babies. With the overwhelming drug epidemic impacting so many communities, this measure will ensure healthier moms and babies while moms serve their time. SB 133 is a commonsense investment to solve a complex issue. Isn’t Noah’s future worth that?
Senate Bill 133 has now passed the Kentucky Senate and House, and is now off to the Governor’s desk. Learn more on the Kentucky General Assembly Bill Tracker.