Rocking Horse Circle of Support Receives Federal Award for Innovative Program

For Immediate Release: September 4, 2003

Contact: Patty Baroudi
Prevention Coordinator
Vermont Department of Health

BURLINGTON—The Vermont Department of Health’s Rocking Horse Circle of Support program has received the federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention’s “Exemplary Award for Innovative Programs”.

The award honors and highlights outstanding achievement in the substance abuse prevention field. Programs are chosen for the award based on their successful results.

The Rocking Horse Circle of Support program is a local educational support group for low-income mothers. During the program’s first year, participants increased their perception of risk from drinking or smoking during pregnancy. Those who participated in the program also gained increased confidence in the ability to handle stress and parent their children.

“This is an important program that helps pregnant women understand why they should not use drugs. It provides alcohol and drug using mothers the support they need to keep their babies healthy,” said Paul Jarris, MD, MBA, Vermont’s Commissioner of Health. In this program, women discuss and learn from each other about the toll substance abuse can take on their own lives as well as the lives of their children and families.

The groups meet weekly for ten weeks and occur three to four times per year. There are up to 10 groups happening simultaneously throughout the state.

During the group meetings, members discuss topics such as alcohol, drug, illegal drug, and tobacco use as well as skill building for parenting and relationship skills. A substance abuse counselor and a maternal and child health expert from the community facilitate groups.

Dr. Trudee Ettlinger, an associate professor of Nursing at Norwich University and a drug and alcohol counselor, developed the program. To implement the program, the department partnered with local alcohol and drug treatment providers, early childhood councils, and local businesses. The Rocking Horse Circle of Support program is available throughout the state.

Twenty-five percent of children in the U.S. live in homes where substance abuse is present. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 130,000 pregnant women per year in the U.S. consume alcohol at level that may increase the risk of having a baby born with fetal alcohol birth defects.

People interested in participating in the Rocking Horse Circle of Support educational support groups can call 1-800-464-4343 for more information.