Marshall University joins coalition to reopen childcare center

Former daycare center on the West End of Huntington Enterprise Child Development will be transformed to care for babies who were exposed to drugs before birth. (WCHS/WVAH)

A community-wide effort has formed to help families dealing with drug abuse in our area. A former daycare center on the West End of Huntington, Enterprise Child Development, will be transformed to care for babies who were exposed to drugs before birth.

After a career of caring for children Executive Director of River Valley Child Development Services Suzi Brodof thought something had to be done.

"They need our help," Brodof said. "If we could help them I thought that was something our agency needed to do. I felt very strongly about it."

Brodof decided to team up with the Healthy Connections Coalition working to make the daycare center a reality. The city of Huntington also presented River Valley Child Development Services with a $35,210 grant as part of the Community Need Development Block Grant. The money will be used for therapy rooms at the center for mothers to learn the best strategies to interact with their children. The former River Valley building will be renamed River Valley CARES (Center for Addiction Research, Education and Support).

"About 20 agencies have been meeting to design this comprehensive approach to serving mothers and their children together," Director of Addiction Services for Marshall Health Bob Hansen said. "We're really looking at the mother and the baby. We're also working with other children or parents in the family. We want to involve everybody."

River City CARES will care for drug exposed babies until they are two-years-old. Once they reach that age they will have the opportunity to attend a daycare which has caregivers who know what the children need.

"What these children need is different than a typical child," Brodof said. "With a typical child we are always busy trying to move them around, sing to them and keep them active. These children need long-term care that is very different. They are often sensitive to bright lights or sounds. We are going to provide a very calm environment where they can feel safe."

The center will also provide the opportunity for Marshall University students studying health or psychology to gain hands-on experience by working with these babies and their families.

Their next step is to start preparing the former enterprise building to care for the babies and drug exposed families. River Valley will be looking for volunteers to help get the building ready when renovations begin. To learn how you can volunteer call the office at 304-523-3417.

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