VOA hopes to bring Freedom House to community

·3 min read

Nov. 13—Volunteers of America are hoping to bring a Freedom House to Daviess County by next year, which will help serve pregnant and parenting women in recovery.

The Hager Education Foundation hosted a meeting Thursday with Volunteers of America (VOA), along with other local community leaders and elected officials, at the Owensboro Board of Education to discuss the possibility of the recovery facility coming to the area.

VOA is a Kentucky provider of recovery services for individuals and families working to overcome substance use disorder, and its Freedom House program is a nationally recognized model for treatment and care of pregnant and parenting women.

At Freedom House, according to the mission and vision of VOA, mothers can begin a new path to becoming healthy and sober and deliver healthy babies, while keeping families united with the assistance of trained professionals who help provide intensive care with a long-term, residential treatment program.

Residents will participate in results-oriented programs in which pregnant and parenting mothers receive family and individual therapy, and medication-assisted treatment, when appropriate, as well as a wide range of parenting and skills-training classes. They can also receive assistance with job training and long-term housing and education options.

Freedom House is also one of very few residential treatment programs that allow children of any age to stay with their mother during her treatment and recovery. Emphasis on family unity, according to Jennifer Hancock, VOA president and CEO, encourages women to enter treatment and has a positive impact on outcomes.

There are three phases of treatment, according to Hancock, beginning with 40 hours of clinical treatment per week, then moving into a lower level of care with 15 hours per week, with structured programming and group sessions where residents can start looking for work or go back to school.

In phase three, she said residents will transition to after-care in recovery housing while still remaining in communication with Freedom House for at least three years.

"You can see this long-term commitment that we make to families," Hancock said. "We know we have to do more for these families. The pipeline is out there of people needing help, we just need to know how to direct the workflow and the traffic to get them most efficiently to treatment."

Freedom House serves women in Louisville in two locations and has expanded to Clay County in southeastern Kentucky, where it has served families for nearly two years and has plans to expand early next year.

"We are not about just coming in and plopping a program down and thinking that we can operate in a silo; it has to be coordinated through a collaborative, integrated effort," Hancock said. "What we have proved in southeastern Kentucky in the four years that we have been working in that community ... We have there, all these recovery assets now. There is what I consider a recovery ecosystem that is treatment, aftercare, housing, job creation and workforce re-entry."

She said there will be a strong emphasis on workforce re-entry and mapping clients to industries and fields where workers are most needed.

Hancock said the hope is to have a facility in Owensboro by 2022, and the organization is working with real estate agents and an architect to find the right location.

Christie Netherton, cnetherton@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7360