I remember when I first got involved in residential treatment programs in Spokane in the 70s, women didn’t go to residential treatment very often. And if they did, there were often the issues of what to do with their children. They often don’t have grandmas or aunties to help out. It became clear that there was a bias against women addicts and alcoholics who were parents. They either didn’t go to treatment—or if they did, they were in danger of losing their children to Children’s Services. And no matter what—she might never get them back. How could you be a mother and do that? I wish I could say that everyone has been completely divested of this prejudice. It continues to be a work in progress.
However, we have made progress.
When I came to Triumph as the CEO in 1989, one of my goals was to provide more opportunities for families and women and children who were affected by the disease of addiction. It is a family disease and I saw this as an opportunity for prevention. We could interrupt the cycle. In addition, I wanted Triumph to be a part of helping women have greater access to recovery and health and hope and happiness. Federal funding became available to try the idea of having women in residential treatment with their children. Aha! There was the funding and we had a big house with lots of bedrooms. Riel House was born. This had never been done before and there were no patterns. We knew we needed child care and parenting programming. We knew we had to make the house child safe. What a riot. Every agency we worked with had a different idea of what and how we should do it. We opened in four months in 1990—which would never happen today.
We discovered as we worked with this population of women that they needed lots of support after they left the program. So we bought an apartment building where the women and kids could live after graduation—affordable, safe and supportive of recovery. We became one of the Parent-Child Assistance Programs, so they had a long-term advocate to support them and assist through the rough times. We partnered with Yakima Neighborhood Health to provide continuing health care for the women and the children. We accessed many community partners to assist them—too many to mention here. But needless to say—the agencies in the community were wonderful and continue their support these many years later.
Today we have a total of three cottages, including Riel House for pregnant and/or parenting women and their children including a licensed therapeutic child care. One of these cottages is enhanced for co-occurring mental health needs. We provide treatment for individuals who are in need of medication assisted treatment. We have increased our stock of housing for program graduates. We provide specialized gender specific after care treatment with on-site child care. And we recently opened a residential program for women who do not have their children with them.
Triumph Treatment Services provides residential services to men who are significant others of the women in our cottages. This fits in with the concept of helping families. The goal of Triumph is to not provide for just the addiction issues of families, but to support with the continuum and wrap around services to support hope and continued recovery. It is our privilege.
About the author: Beth Dannhardt is Triumph’s executive director and CEO. She has more than 30 years of experience in the chemical dependency field.