Vermont Collaboration Used as Model for Treating Pregnant Women with Opioid Use Disorders

01 September 2016

The Family Services Division (FSD) of the Vermont Department for Children and Families participated in a workgroup to help the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) frame practice and policy considerations around the treatment of pregnant women with opioid use disorders. An outcome of this work was a new publication — A Collaborative Approach to the Treatment of Pregnant Women with Opioid Use Disorders — that provides guidance to child welfare professionals and service providers as they work to address this population’s unique needs.

FSD staff also helped develop one of the case studies published as Appendix Five in the guide.  It tells the story of the Children and Recovering Mothers collaborative of Chittenden County, known as CHARM.  This Vermont initiative was included in the guide as a model of a community-based, collaborative and comprehensive approach to caring for families affected by opioid use.  This multi-partner collaboration includes:

  • Howard Center
  • KidSafe Collaborative
  • Lund
  • University of Vermont Children's Hospital & University of Vermont Medical Center (formerly Fletcher Allen Health Care)
  • Vermont Department for Children and Families
  • Vermont Department of Corrections
  • Vermont Department of Health
  • Vermont Department of Health Access
  • Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle

“We were pleased to be asked to participate in the development of this valuable tool and are excited that a Vermont initiative was included as a model for practice across the country,” said Karen Shea, Interim Deputy Commissioner for DCF’s Family Services Division. “It’s nice to be recognized for the ways in which Vermont is a leader in this area. We are so fortunate to be working with our incredible partners to help pregnant women and families struggling with opiate addiction in Vermont.”

Communities across the country have experienced increases in the rates of opioid misuse and dependence as well as the number of individuals seeking substance abuse treatment. Child welfare systems have reported increases in both caseloads and the numbers of young children entering state custody as a result of these increases.  Collaborative planning and delivery of services have been yielding some promising results.

The new publication is available online at

The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) is an initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services and jointly funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) and the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), Children's Bureau's Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN).