American Indian Center finds success helping opioid addicted pregnant women

"We see mothers maintaining sobriety and healthy support systems developed"

Susie Jones
June 11, 2019 - 11:15 am

The Opioid epidemic is hitting families in Minnesota's Native American community particularly hard, but a program at the Minneapolis American Indian Center is working to change that. 

It's called "Bright Beginnings" and it includes weekly meetings with mothers who are sober, offering each other support with the help of staff and their case workers. 

RELATED: See part two of Susie Jones series on the impact of the opioid crisis in Minnesota. 

There is also a cultural component to the program, with young mothers on this day, learning to make ribbon skirts. 

Rebecca Skinaway has had two of her older children removed from her home, while she was actively using, now she's in recovery and at Bright Beginnings with six month old daughter Talia. "I've had my share of struggles, going through a lot while I was pregnant," she said while feeding the baby her bottle. "When I had my baby they were there for me throughout all the issues I had to deal with. But I am sober now and feel good." 

According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, the prevalence of babies born addicted is more than seven times more likely to affect Native American infants than white infants. "Moms who had just delivered or were pregnant, were reluctant to get prenatal services," said Mary Le Garde, Executive Director of the center. "Because either they were using, or were afraid that they had been in child protection, and they were afraid it was going to start all over again." 

Laura Newton overseas the program. "We support women who are at risk of using opioids or other drugs," she told Susie.   

The program is working, according to Le Garde. "I've seen the success with healthy babies being born. We see mothers who are maintaining sobriety. And we've seen healthy support systems being developed."

The series willl continue tomorrow as WCCO Reporter Susie Jones shares the story of Bailey, and her journey from the hell of heroin, to the joy of reunification with her daughter.  Listen at 5am, 7am, 11am, 4pm and 6pm or on  





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