Lowry designates funding for fetal alcohol programs

OLYMPIA - Gov. Mike Lowry has directed that $480,000 in state emergency funds be used to pay for two important substance abuse prevention programs not funded by the legislature this year.

Lowry will use $380,000 to continue the Birth-to-Three program, which provides outreach and intensive services to new mothers with alcohol or substance abuse problems. He also earmarked $100,000 to begin a substance abuse prevention and education program for Native Americans. Lowry had requested both appropriations in his 1996 supplemental budget.

"It is a fact that prevention of fetal alcohol syndrome and other substance abuse-related problems literally saves the lives of many kids, so it would be absolutely negligent of us to not fund the programs," Lowry said. "These services are a relatively small cost to the state, but they are extremely beneficial to the people they reach and will produce future savings in dollars and lives."

The governor's action will continue two existing Birth-to-Three programs in Seattle and Spokane. The Fetal Alcohol Drug Unit at the University of Washington will continue to oversee the programs, in which counselors pair with substance-abusing mothers for up to three years to serve as role models and guide them to recovery. In five years as a University of Washington demonstration project, 80 percent of the program's clients had participated in alcohol/ substance abuse treatment and 76 percent were able to keep their children living at home.

The other project provides for development of a fetal alcohol syndrome and alcohol related neurodevelopmental disorders prevention and education program for tribes and tribal urban organizations in the state.

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For more information, contact the Governor's Communications Office at 360-753-6790.