Women’s Recovery Center opens in the Grand Strand

troot@thesunnews.comOctober 28, 2012 

Next week, a new Horry County recovery center will open its white door and welcome up to 10 women into a unique substance abuse program aimed at helping them battle their addictions while keeping custody of their children.

The Women’s Recovery Center is the first of its kind on the Grand Strand and will accept its first patients on Wednesday into a newly renovated 10-bed treatment house located in the Conway area. The center is operated by Shoreline Behavioral Health Services, which has partnered with the state Department of Social Services to keep kids out of foster care while their mothers receive treatment.

“Because it is a very focused population we are starting with a few people. South Carolina puts more kids in foster care than should be put in. We decided we wanted to be a part of the solution,” said John Coffin, executive director with Shoreline. “How can we do a better job of keeping kids out of foster care? I said, ‘I’ve got this building, I think we can do something with this.’ ”

The center will target adult women at risk of losing custody of their children because of substance dependence and a desire of the woman to participate in the program. The woman must have another parent or caregiver to be responsible for her child while she participates in the program.

“The recovery community has been screaming for a program for women. I’ve wanted this place to be dedicated to women for a long time,” said Christine Wright, a registered nurse with Shoreline, who will be working at the center. “This is very special for me to actually be here when this is happening.”

Women will participate in recovery programs such as Alcoholic Anonymous, and attend classes for parenting, family education, money management and problem solving, said Patty Hottell, who also will be working at the center for Shoreline.

“We’re looking at the residents in a holistic approach. In addition to [recovery], we’re looking at parenting, nutrition and the family,” Hottell said. “I’m excited we are able to offer this to the community.”

The house, which is newly renovated, has calming colored walls freshly painted in blues, beige, brown and green. Bedrooms have dark wood-colored platform beds with storage underneath with deep blue bed spreads neatly tucked in. The location of the home is not public information because of security reasons.

Cuts in state and local funding forced Shoreline officials to close a detox program that had operated at the location. And after talking with others about numerous mothers struggling with addiction and their children facing placement in foster care, Coffin said he had a “light bulb experience.”

“This is a real need. This is a huge need. This is something we can do, something unique,” Coffin said and noted there are similar programs in Greenville and Rock Hill. “DSS does not want to put another kid in foster care and if the mom is motivated this could be the solution.”

On Oct. 23, DSS workers and others in the substance abuse and child care community who would refer a woman to the center for treatment got a preview tour of the center. More than 50 people walked through the house and heard about the program.

“We know it is a family disease that is treated in bits and pieces here and there,” Wright said. “Nobody has ever put it together for the whole family. I’m very excited that Horry County is moving forward in treating the family.”

The goal of the program is to admit the women for one to three months and start them on the path to battling their substance abuse problems, Coffin said. The short timeframe takes into account that “every day a kid is out of its home is important and precious,” he said.

The program is working with DSS officials, who are charged with caring for the safety of children, Coffin said.

DSS officials in Columbia did not respond to repeated phone calls for information about the number of children in foster care in Horry and Georgetown counties and comment about the program. Local DSS officials referred questions to state DSS officials in Columbia.

“This program is meant to be the beginning,” Coffin said of hopes to expand to a larger family center. “If you can’t make it here, then maybe you don’t need your kids.”

Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723.

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