A new program in Little Rock will help pregnant women and new mothers access behavioral health services.
The program, called Home Together, is a partnership between University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Our House, a non-profit that helps the homeless and near homeless in the area.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will fund the program over a five year period with a $2.5 million grant. The UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health will oversee the program. Our House will be the direct service provider.
The plan’s target population is families that include pregnant women or new mothers with children under the age of five. It will help them deal with mental illnesses or substance abuse disorders.
Dr. Cam Patterson, UAMS Chancellor, says UAMS alone deals with a high number of children without home stability.
“At UAMS, every month we deliver 30 babies who leave the hospital with an insecure home environment. 30 babies a month. One a day,” Patterson said.
According a study by the National Center on Family Homelessness, Arkansas ranks fourth from the bottom on child homelessness.
Through Home Together, Our House will add three additional case managers, child and family therapists, and new services to address health issues. This includes access to health care.
Our House Executive Director Ben Goodwin says its current homeless prevention program the Central Arkansas Family Stability Institute currently serves 90 families a year. The program is expected to double that number, but Goodwin hopes to go even beyond that.
“Ultimately the vision is lasting permanent success. Higher paying jobs, more savings, a better safety net, better mental health treatment, better family stability that is not just a short term fix to homelessness, but is a long term foundation for a better life for these families,” Goodwin said.
Keundra Gilder spoke on her experiences with Our House and all of the services it gave her as a mother.
“You know you have stability. You know you have a home. You have clothes. You have teachers. You have a family and that’s a big thing,” Gilder said.