August 21, 2019 - 5:39 PM EDT
Hazelden Betty Ford expands with new program in Minnesota for young children
Hazelden Betty Ford expands with new program in Minnesota for young children

Children's Program provides support, education and care to kids growing up with addiction in the family

PLYMOUTH, Minn., Aug. 21, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation announced today that its renowned Children's Program, launched three decades ago in California, has expanded to Minnesota, offering new services for kids ages 7 to 12 whose family has been affected by addiction.

The nation's largest nonprofit treatment organization. (PRNewsFoto/Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation)

"This is another great opportunity borne out of the merger five years ago between Hazelden and the Betty Ford Center," Mark Mishek, president and CEO of the united Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, said at a program launch and open house event Wednesday in Plymouth. "We are thrilled to bring this unique and much-needed program to the families we serve here in Minnesota."

Former First Lady Betty Ford personally helped launch the Children's Program in 1983 at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif. The program, which also has a site in Aurora, Colo., became a widely respected and signature offering that filled a crucial gap in the addiction care continuum.

"We are tremendously grateful to our generous supporters nationwide, who have made it possible for us to expand the Children's Program into Minnesota, where we have five treatment centers and many, many families to serve," Mishek said. "Thanks to our donors' inspired philanthropy, we never have to turn any child away due to an inability to pay. That's important because insurance doesn't yet cover these kinds of child services."

Through activities, stories and sharing led by trained counselors, participants in the Hazelden Betty Ford Children's Program learn to identify and express their feelings, develop coping and self-care skills, deepen communication with their parent or adult caregiver, and recognize they are not alone in navigating the challenges of growing up with an addicted family member. Just as importantly, they get the opportunity to play games, enjoy recreational activities, de-stress and be themselves.

"Mrs. Ford hired me to revamp the program because she recognized that children are often the first hurt and the last helped when addiction takes hold in a family," said Jerry Moe, executive director of Hazelden Betty Ford's National Children's Program, and a sought-after speaker and national expert on child counseling.

"The children we serve learn that addiction is not their fault and that their loved one is sick. They also learn a language that allows them to be comfortable talking about the disease and their feelings, which strengthens recovery for the whole family," Moe continued. "Our program also helps prepare kids to make informed, healthy decisions as they grow up. In that way, it can help break generational cycles of addiction."

Children's program sessions are held at Hazelden Betty Ford Minnesota campuses in both Center City and Plymouth. The four-day sessions are available to children who have family members in treatment at Hazelden Betty Ford facilities or elsewhere, and also to children whose loved ones are not currently or perhaps have never been to treatment.

"Our program is available to every young child who needs it," said Helene Photias, director of operations for the Children's Program, who has overseen the program expansion.

In California, Colorado and other select locations, the Children's Program also works with school districts to deliver the same quality counseling on school campuses that is offered at Hazelden Betty Ford's own sites. The voluntary programs are led by Hazelden Betty Ford Children's Program counselors and are scheduled during school days.

"Sometimes the first place where the effects of addiction are evident is in the classroom," said Photias. "When possible, we want to bring help to children, not wait for them to come to us. That's what we've done with our school programs, and so that's a conversation we're beginning to have with school districts in Minnesota as well."

More information on Hazelden Betty Ford's Children's Program is available online.

About the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. As the nation's leading nonprofit provider of comprehensive inpatient and outpatient treatment for adults and youth, the Foundation has 17 locations nationwide and collaborates with an expansive network throughout health care. With a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center, the Foundation today also encompasses a graduate school of addiction studies, a publishing division, an addiction research center, recovery advocacy and thought leadership, professional and medical education programs, school-based prevention resources and a specialized program for children who grow up in families with addiction. Learn more at and on Twitter @hazldnbettyford.

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SOURCE Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

Source: PR Newswire (August 21, 2019 - 5:39 PM EDT)