Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

January 23, 2009

Helping moms fight addictions


“The Pines (Family Campus) provides the opportunity for low income women to regain control of their lives, for families to be reunified, and facilitates the training necessary for long-term recovery and successful re-entry into mainstream living,” stated George Bennett, the prime mover behind the project.

A program of Volunteers of America, the Pines Family Campus employs eight permanent staff members, including two substance abuse technicians, a case manager, a clinical coordinator, a marriage and family therapist, a nurse, and a secretary. Elizabeth Harbin is the program director. The Pines Family Campus also contracts with a local doctor, Harbin stated.

“If substance abuse is a barrier, the Pines (Family Campus) helps with that by bringing them into treatment, helping them get stable, and then employable,” Harbin stated.

Pines Family Campus staff members also assist women in clearing other barriers, like probation and Division of Family and Children Services cases initiated prior to entering the program, Harbin said.

The program was originally intended to serve clients eligible for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, but before the facility could get up and running, TANF funding was no longer available, creating financial gaps for program participants, Harbin stated.

“None of the women receiving treatment at the Pines (Family Campus) has ever received any TANF funds,” Harbin said.

One big advantage of the program is that children remain with their mothers, Harbin stated. The campus includes a 2,700-square-foot childcare facility, but there is no TANF funding to operate it. Harbin said it will take $30,000 to open the daycare facility.

Women attending groups to learn skills and change unhealthy behavior patterns must bring their children with them, which can become a big distraction.

“In groups, the kids get agitated, make a lot of fuss and disrupt the groups, so it’s hard to focus,” Thomas said.

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