For the second year in a row, the March of Dimes Hawaii Chapter has awarded a grant to the nonprofit Malama Family Recovery Center to support the BabySAFE (Substance Abuse Free Environment) Program, which is aimed at underserved maternal and child health needs here in Maui County.
BabySAFE, which is entirely funded through grants and donations, will reduce infant mortality and morbidity among high-risk substance using women by intervening earlier in the pregnancy or before the pregnancy, increasing access to early prenatal care and preparing and referring women for substance abuse treatment. The use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs during pregnancy is associated with a range of harmful effects to children in utero, such as stillbirth, low birth weight, preterm delivery and fetal alcohol syndrome.
This grant is one of many that the March of Dimes awards in pursuit of its mission to prevent birth defects and infant mortality.
“As a result of the March of Dimes’ ongoing support, we will be able to continue providing individual and group education to women about the effects of substance abuse on the fetus and about how to increase the chance of a healthy pregnancy, as well as providing case management and referral services to those who need or are considering entering treatment,” said Lisa Ponichtera, Clinical Director for Malama Family Recovery Center. “We are so grateful to the volunteers who support the March of Dimes by participating in events like March for Babies and by donating in other ways because they make this grant possible,” she said.
Malama Family Recovery Center provides a range of effective, accessible and evidence-based residential and outpatient treatment services to pregnant and parenting women and their children in a safe and supportive environment. Sonia*, a client who gave birth to a healthy baby girl while participating in BabySAFE, said that her connection with Malama staff gave her “the desire to put everything into the program so that my baby and I could get better and stay healthy. They truly made me want to be a better mother.”
The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education and advocacy to save babies and in 2003 launched a campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at marchofdimes.com or its Spanish language Web site at nacersano.org.
If you or someone you know is pregnant and dealing with substance abuse issues, please contact Malama staff member Megan Morrow at 808-877-7117.
*Name changed for confidentiality