Pennsylvania counties go their own way, receiving help from families of children born with withdrawal symptoms; the official says that consistency will help – Morning call

HARISBURG – 67 Pennsylvania counties have little consistency in how they link families struggling with issues such as neonatal withdrawal syndrome – in which a baby is born with withdrawal symptoms associated with maternal dependence – with resources that can help them.

That was one of the reports Marissa McClellan, administrator of the Dauphin County Children and Youth Division, on Monday delivered a task force on opioid exposure to children to the Joint State Government Commission.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, for every 1,000 live births in the state, there are 11.9 cases of neonatal withdrawal syndrome.

The task force, approved by Governor Tom Wolfe on January 26, 2022, is tasked with analyzing practices regarding children and infants exposed to the substance. His third meeting, which took place on Monday, was to hear McClellan and others.

McClellan explained the details of the “safe care plans” used in her county during the presentation of the task force. After giving birth to a child with any opioid-related health problems, the hospital will report, she said.

Dauphin County children and youth are holding their first meeting with the family within the first 24 hours of the report to create a support plan, McClellan said. From there, an employee is assigned to the family, who will provide more individual assistance in the coming months.

McClellan said one problem her organization is constantly facing is the lack of consistency in the counties in the process of getting families the help they need from organizations.

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She said there are probably “66 other methods” that the task force can find to do similar work. She said she hopes the task force will establish some consistency in the process across the state.

Although the task force planned to review the data on Monday, members decided to postpone the conversation to the next meeting due to time constraints. The group has not yet developed any recommendations for the state legislature, but it must submit an official report to the governor’s office, the Senate and the House of Representatives no later than November 26th.

Following this report, the task force will be disbanded.

A total of six meetings will take place, the next one is scheduled for June 27 from 1 to 3 p.m.

The Joint State Government Commission, which has a task force, is a non-partisan and bicameral research agency of the General Assembly.

Glen Pasevich is the acting director of the commission. Ahead of the task force meeting, he said he hoped the group would find new ways to reduce the stigma surrounding opioid dependence.

Jackson White is an intern at the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association. You can contact him by phone (724) 777-3007.

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