CICADA program to aid women, children in crisis

Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2001

Kenai Peninsula women trying to get their lives in order will have more help soon.

The Cook Inlet Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (CICADA) has received a $500,000 federal grant to launch a holistic treatment program called the Family Focused Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program.

It means women struggling with alcohol, drugs and family stresses can work with trained professionals to control addictions and overcome problems without having to leave town, put their names on waiting lists or negotiate a maze of agencies.

"We are really excited," said Henry Novak, CICADA's executive director.

"This is something that can really make an impact in our community.

"I would like to try starting it in June or July."

Novak said social service providers have been looking for years for better ways to address family needs here. Studies elsewhere and individual cases here show that many families with child abuse and poverty problems suffer complications from alcohol, drugs and mental illness.

The overlapping problems make it difficult for piecemeal social programs to help dysfunctional families, he said.

"We do believe substance abuse effects the function of a family across the board," he said.

"This really came to a focus with the Department of Family and Youth Services."

The Alaska DFYS area covering the western peninsula, from Nikiski on the north to Homer on the south and east to Cooper Landing, had 900 cases of child neglect or abuse over the past year. About two-thirds were in the central peninsula, he said.

Working with CICADA, the Kenai DFYS office did a random file audit of 50 open cases in 1999. They found that more than three-fourths involved neglect, about half involved substance abuse, about half were families with single mothers and about one in four involved sexual abuse. Of those files, 42 percent of the families had parents on public assistance.

Novak estimated that 200 to 300 people would be suitable for the new services as soon as they become available.

"A lot of them are people with multiple issues," he said.

The core of the program will be a mix of individual, group and family therapy. This will allow an intensive, comprehensive treatment of family lives, with an emphasis on mothers and adolescents.

"There are going to be a significant number of jobs created," Novak said.

The funding will pay for additional staff at CICADA, Central Peninsula Counseling Services and the Women's Resource and Crisis Center, all of which coordinate programs with each other, DFYS and other entities.

Funding also will assist clients in some circumstances with day care, transportation costs and health care.

The goals will be to reduce substance abuse, to address mental and reproductive health issues and to improve parenting skills, employability, health care, social supports, life skills, safety and housing.

The agencies involved worked with the Alaska congressional delegation to develop the plans. Sen. Ted Stevens engineered through legislation this past winter for a special appropriation through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Adminis-tration, which will administer and disperse the grant funding, Novak said.

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