Safe Care for Newborns

With the opioid crisis worsening in many parts of the United States, a new bill has been put forward in Wyoming to help provide care for newborn babies born into a situation surrounded by addiction or drug misuse.

With more people than ever seeking rehab and drug detox clinics, as well as a rising number of opioid overdose deaths, while many are looking to create reforms and programs to help solve the problem, there are also a number of problems elsewhere, including parenthood.

The “plan of safe care” bill would look to ensure that healthcare providers ensure the safety and well-being of an infant with prenatal substance abuse exposure, following their release from the hospital in order to ensure that the baby’s life is put on the best possible footing from day one.

That could be with resources or follow-up appointments, which is key given that more and more infants are being exposed to substances. According to Lindsey Shilling, a senior social services administrator in the Wyoming Department of Family Services, there were 132 reports of newborns with substance exposure in 2022. With the drug crisis rising across the USA, there’s every chance those figures could rise in 2023.

Shilling said, any focus on providing support to moms and babies before protective custody or the need to separate families is a perfect thing.”

A third of those 132 are now in custody, which is being praised as a step forward in not criminalizing women suffering from drug addiction.

The idea of it is to then help parents who are suffering with their addiction, while the healthcare services ensure that the newborn is still getting the care that it needs.

Erin McKinney, director of women and children services at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center said of the bill, “We would love as the culture changes to where moms feel comfortable knowing that there's something in the plans for them when they come to the hospital and are discharged.”

The bill has been passed and if it proves a success, it would be a huge step forward not just for Wyoming, but the many states that could follow suit in ensuring that both parent and child are looked after during a difficult time in the country when it comes to drug abuse.