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MaineGeneral Medical Center receives grant to provide parent coaching model to at-risk mothers

AUGUSTA, Maine – MaineGeneral Medical Center’s Edmund N. Ervin Pediatric Center (EEPC) has been awarded a one-year, $130,000 grant from the John T. Gorman Foundation to provide home-based parent coaching services for at-risk mothers in the Kennebec Valley.

The grant provides a unique level of support to mothers who have substance use disorder, a history of mental health diagnosis, involvement with the child welfare system or other related factors that might negatively impact parenting.

“Many parents today are struggling with mental health and substance use problems, which can seriously interfere with their ability to connect with their infant in the sensitive, nurturing, consistent way that they, in their heart of hearts, very much want to,” said
Dr. Lindsey Tweed, MD, MPH, child psychiatrist at the Edmund N. Ervin Pediatric Center.

Starting July 1, the EEPC will help up to 40 women and their infants living in Kennebec and Somerset counties. Using the modified Attachment and Biobehavorial Catch-up (ABC) model, health educators will meet with each mother in her home beginning at six months into her pregnancy.

“A primary goal of the John T. Gorman Foundation is ensuring that more Maine children get a strong start in life – which begins with helping parents become the best caregivers they can be,” said John T. Gorman Foundation President and CEO Tony Cipollone. “Nationally and in other countries, the ABC model has shown very positive results in helping at-risk mothers form deeper bonds with their infants, a key factor in a young child’s healthy development. The Foundation is proud to help MaineGeneral implement this innovative program in Maine, where we hope it will bring the same positive outcomes to mothers and their children. If it does, we also hope that it’ll become a model for other communities to emulate.”

“This model has the best evidence of any program in the world for helping parents form the bond with their infants. ABC programs have begun to spread throughout the world but none yet have been developed in New England. MaineGeneral is very excited to begin bringing this state-of-the-art program to its pregnant moms,” Tweed said.

The funds will support the training, certification and equipment for two part-time health educators, technical assistance from the developer of the program, Mary Dozier PhD, and her team at the University of Delaware and other support such as developmental toys for the infants.