Anoka County has received more funds from the state for a program it launched last fall to integrate care for pregnant mothers who abuse substances.

In July 2019 the Minnesota Department of Human Services awarded the county $190,302 for one year, but it recently extended the grant period by a year to June 30, 2021, increasing the total amount to $380,604.

This will give the county more time to achieve its program goals, according to Jerry Pederson, county social services and behavioral health director.

As part of the program, the Anoka County Board last month awarded a contract to Canvas Health, Oakdale, in the amount of $8,377.86 a month for the time period of Jan. 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021, with a maximum of $150,801.48.

Under the contract, Canvas Health will provide a full-time direct service staff member who will be embedded in the county’s child protection service unit, working collaboratively with the unit to provide intensive case management services to pregnant mothers with substance abuse issues and their families.

According to Monica Halvorson, community social services and behavioral health department grants and contracts coordinator, the position’s focus is on the safety and well-being of infants (pre- and post-natal), timely access to services and supports for mothers and fathers and integration of the local collaborative to improve responses and outcomes.

“The key to the program’s success is collaboration,” Pederson said.

Several agencies within county government and outside, for example, hospitals, are involved in the care of pregnant mothers abusing substances, and a goal of the program is to develop a tool that integrates care for these women, he said.

The county has contracted with another vendor to be part of the collaborative effort to address the substance abuse exposure issue, according to Pederson.

The program also includes interventions for pregnant women abusing substances, effective treatment of substance abuse during pregnancy resulting in fewer newborns testing positive for exposure to illicit substances and positive outcomes for children remaining in the custody of their parents, Pederson said.

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