Family First!

The U.S. Government’s Family First Prevention Services Act has approved Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT) as both a parent support program and a substance abuse treatment model. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT) — sometimes referred to as Medication-Assisted Treatment — uses medically-prescribed methadone to reduce the use of heroin and other opioids by people struggling with addiction and dependency. Including MMT on the original list of programs for review means the U.S. Government is taking a broader view of evidence-based addiction treatment outcomes.

The move also means federal officials consider MMT to be useful not just for parents with at-risk children — or even just parents at all. It means simply MMT is an approved medication-assisted treatment of addiction.

Why the move? Because studies showed MMT had favorable effects on parent or caregiver drug use. It’s that simple.

Healthy Families America (HFA), a home visiting program, received the highest rating of all the MMT studies. Then again, the well-supported HFA program takes a proactive approach to parenting — and then follows through for at least six months after a child enters the family matrix. In other words, HFA’s highly-trained home visiting professionals put family first. And they do so in a most effective manner. In fact, HFA is so effective that New York officials credit the state’s program with helping drive down the number of newborns who are taken into foster care.

That’s good news for everyone. It’s also an early indicator of just how useful Family First programs can and will be, for parents, children and society-at-large.

Family First Act

The Family First Act was passed back in February of 2018, yet it mostly takes effect this October. FFA enables states to use the Title IV-E entitlement – previously reserved for foster care and adoption support – to fund services aimed at working with parents without the need for a family separation. Those services must be evidence-based. They also must apply to three areas: parenting, substance abuse treatment and mental health interventions.

At the same time, the law restricts federal funds for the placement of foster youth in group homes and other “congregate care” options. There are exceptions for niche populations, as well as for accredited providers using trauma-informed, clinical models. Yet even in those cases, a judge will need to periodically approve the need for continued congregate care.

This will significantly address issues where they arise — within the family.

Family First’s front-end services are limited to substance abuse, mental health and parenting interventions. The Act is further restricted to services deemed to be promising practices or evidence-based interventions.

ALEF Approves

We at ALEF applaud the U.S. Government’s for including Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) on the Family First Act’s list of approved family programs. We’ve seen firsthand what MMT/MAT can do to help keep families together, as well to end the cycle of addiction. And we wholeheartedly support any and all efforts that will put family first.

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Family First! - ALEF Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Clinics