Healthy Moms and Babies

Enhancing family-support services in Western Maryland

Healthy Moms and Babies seeks to enhance family-support services in Western Maryland related to Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), in which children are born affected by parental drug use. Funded through the federal Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP), the three-year project began in September 2020 and serves Allegany and Garrett counties.

Target population: Pregnant women, mothers, and women of childbearing age who are at risk for opioid and other substance misuse, as well as their children, families, and caregivers

Partner Agencies: AHEC West, Allegany County Health Department, Garrett County Health Department, and Pressley Ridge family services


• Promote a message of resilience for families affected by NAS and substance misuse through the evidence-based principles of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM) and other self-care strategies

• Provide NAS training to the healthcare workforce on best practices that encourage engagement and promote early intervention for women and their babies

• Improve case-management services related to NAS in Garrett County through pilot implementation of the Healthy Families America Child Welfare Adaptation Model, in the hope of expanding the program to Allegany County.


Allegany County far outpaces the state rate on maternal hospitalizations related to general Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Of the county’s 628 maternal hospitalizations in 2017, an equivalent of 157.6 per 1,000 featured an SUD diagnosis, or nearly four times the state average.

• In Garrett County, of the 213 maternal hospitalizations in 2017, 98.6 per 1,000 featured an SUD diagnosis, more than double the state average. Rates in both counties specific to opioid misuse also far exceed state averages.

Program Elements

Child Welfare Adaptation Model – Garrett County

Implementation of the Child Welfare Adaptation Model in Garrett County represents a significant part of this project’s design, with the hope that its success as a pilot initiative will lead to expansion within Garrett County. Developed by Healthy Families America, this evidence-based program features intensive one-on-one interaction with parents and families, including weekly home visits and screening protocols with linkage to supports on substance use, parent-child relationships, child health and safety, child abuse and neglect, and strengthening family capacity. Children can be enrolled in the program from pre-natal to 2 years of age.

Geofencing and targeted social media – Both counties

Geofencing is a location-based service in which an app or other software program uses Wi-Fi, GPS, or cellular data to trigger a targeted marketing action (such as a media advertisement) when a mobile device enters a virtual geographic boundary, known as a geofence – in this case regional medical facilities. The need to reach pregnant women and new moms with messaging about available services and resources was identified at the earliest stages of the Healthy Moms and Babies project. Our use of targeted social media ads through geofencing places this information squarely where our target population – indeed the entire generation of child-bearing age – goes for information of all kinds: Their smartphones.