Research Goals

In Marion County, Indiana, resources to help opioid-addicted mothers engage in treatment are limited. While care of pregnant women with opioid addiction has improved, there is a gap in care for many of these women after delivery.

The CARE Plus program is a two-year feasibility and pilot program with a goal of assisting these mothers and caregivers in making the transition to caring for their newborn baby and continuing their own recovery process. The program strives to improve parental skills, the health of people addicted to opioids and the health of babies. Researchers plan to evaluate mothers and babies after one year to determine how the program affected participants.

Decreasing Infant Mortality

Indiana ranks among the highest in the country for the number of babies who die before their first birthday. Babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome are at high-risk of death in their first year of life. By helping mothers and other caregivers learn to care for their babies and themselves, the program aims to reduce infant mortality in Indiana and beyond.

There are five major risk factors associated with infant mortality: smoking; mental health issues, including depression and anxiety; obesity and/or food insecurity; unsafe infant sleep practices; and a mother’s decision not to breastfeed. Community health workers are trained to help women and caregivers struggling with any of these behaviors by connecting them to resources like food pantries, low-cost or free clothing, therapy and more.

Stopping the Opioid Crisis

A long-term goal of the CARE Plus program is to encourage more opioid-dependent mothers to engage in opioid and mental health treatment, improving their health and lowering the number of people addicted to opioids in the state as a result. By building relationships with caregivers and providing them with the right tools to care for themselves and their babies, the program aims to provide a healthier and happier future for these mothers and their children.

While the community health workers who work with mothers and babies recovering from opioid addiction are not therapists or trained health professionals, they are trained to help participants get therapy, medical care and addiction recovery. They also act as a support system to encourage healthy behaviors.