There is a growing body of research that indicates the prolonged exposure to trauma, violence, neglect, parental substance abuse, poverty, and death or incarceration of a family member can become toxic to the developing brains of infants and young children. This toxic stress affects the child’s ability to regulate emotions; handle stressful experiences; and develop language, social skills, and positive physical and mental health.
The bad news: Without positive parental/care-giver relationships, negative consequences that are costly to the family and the larger society can result such as: developmental delays, learning disabilities, and childhood behavior problems, as well as diabetes, heart disease, depression, drug abuse, alcoholism, etc. Thus perpetuating the cycle of addiction we see with people suffering from mental illness and substance abuse disorders.
The really good news: Drawing from the latest science, the Baby Haven and the Haven are working to break this cycle of toxic stress and its long-term negative consequences by strengthening relationships between Haven mothers suffering from substance abuse and their young children. With the generous support of foundations and other donors, The Baby Haven is able to provide parent-child engagement activities, family education workshops, and connection to early intervention services designed to strengthen family interactions and support bonding and attachment. The Baby Haven also recently established a partnership with Mental Health Center of Denver (MHCD) to enhance its services and support for families. MHCD staff will provide once a week consultation, classroom support, and training to Baby Haven teachers, families and administrators to support the social and emotional health needs of Baby Haven children.