Rebecca Project for Human Rights Expands Advocacy

Training parents in recovery to advocate for improved policies for low-income families

From 2005 to 2010, the Washington-based Rebecca Project for Human Rights expanded its efforts to advocate on behalf of low-income families suffering from the impact of a parent’s substance abuse.

The Rebecca Project accomplished this chiefly through its Sacred Authority national leadership network, comprised of parents (mostly mothers) in recovery from substance abuse, violence and trauma, who speak from their own experience—at public conferences, educational briefings and congressional hearings—as advocates for innovative health and social welfare policies for families with addiction issues.

Project staff and Sacred Authority members trained 488 parent advocates in 18 two-day trainings across the country. They also expanded the number of Sacred Authority state chapters from 11 to 16 (including the District of Columbia).

As requested in writing by members of Congress, Sacred Authority members provided written reports and congressional testimony. In 2006, Congress passed federal legislation mandating $160 million in support of substance abuse treatment designed for families.

Project staff and Sacred Authority members also established a national Anti-Shackling Coalition to end the practice of shackling incarcerated mothers during labor and delivery. Shortly after its establishment, members helped end the practice of shackling in federal prisons through negotiations with the federal Bureau of Prisons.

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