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Since 1998, Children's Research Triangle has been one of the premier centers for clinical, research and policy development on behalf of children. At the core of our approach to promoting the well being of children is the recognition that a child's development is a dynamic process, involving both social and biological factors that contribute to success or failure. From day one, children interact with the environment around them and seek the nurturing support that will help them achieve their full potential for health and development. However, a woman's use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs during pregnancy is recognized as one of the most significant barriers to a child's healthy outcome, impeding the child's ultimate growth and development through both biological and environmental influences. Compounding this problem, many children from substance abusing homes suffer early trauma that places them at even higher risk for poor outcomes.  For better or worse, many of the children end up in the child welfare system, often undergoing a series of placement changes that interfere with the child's ability to develop an enduring relationship with a primary caretaker.

 

Over the past several years, we have continued to study the integration of behavioral health care into primary health care for children at risk from prenatal alcohol and drug exposure. Not surprisingly, we find that children whose families receive integrated services fare far better than children who receive care in a more traditional manner. Our treatment model has been so successful that communities in a number of states around the country---California, New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, Texas, Nevada, Maryland, Hawaii, New Mexico, to name a few---are in the process of replicating the Children's Research Triangle's model of care. We also have seen the 4P's Plus©, a screening instrument for perinatal substance abuse, being utilized in clinical programs around the country. Active research into the recognition and treatment of high risk children and families has been funded by several federal agencies---the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Administration for Children and Families, the Health Resources and Services Administration---as well as local foundations and national foundations.

The number of children and families receiving evaluation and treatment services at CRT continues to grow, with referrals coming from almost every state in the country and from as far away as Europe. Camp SOAR, our outdoor recreational camp for children with special needs, continues to expand and flourish, thanks to the dedicated staff and volunteers who work with these children over a very strenuous but exhilarating two weeks each summer.

Our challenge in the coming years is to continue to provide cutting edge clinical services and perform quality research that can be translated into best clinical practices for children and families. We then will publish and disseminate information that will guide other communities and organizations in their care of high-risk children. Our focus will continue to be on the children and families whose lives can be made better through thoughtful, supportive, quality care.