Literacy Is the Key to Change for Addicted Mothers

Economic Opportunity Family Health Center, Inc. (EOFHC), of Miami, Fla., hired three consultants to assess its comprehensive residential program for crack-addicted mothers and their children. EOFHC has offered its program, which links primary health care with treatment for drug abuse, since 1987.

The consultants' report to the EOFHC set forth a partial profile of the program's client population from 1987 to 1991 and described elements of its service provision.

Key Findings

  • The client profile included the following data:

    • Of 108 addicted women—predominantly black non-Hispanic—who entered the program, 34 percent were pregnant and 60 percent had children.
      • The women had an 11th grade education, on average.
      • 90 percent had no current health problems.
      • Most had no current involvement with the legal system.
      • 4 percent were employed.
    • From 1987 to 1991, 29 percent of clients completed the program, and 90 percent of all women leaving were sober.
    • No crack-addicted or underweight babies were born into the program.

Key Conclusions

  • The report concluded that the program suffered from:

    • Low client program completion rates.
    • Poor job/career development due to multiple factors, including clients' low literacy rates, criminal records, and mental and physical disabilities.
    • Lack of available adequate housing in south Florida—especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew.
    • The inadequacy of minimum-wage jobs to sustain recovering addicts' lives.