Today, Illuminate Colorado, in partnership with the San Luis Valley Neonatal Task Force, announced the award of a Federal grant totaling nearly $500,000 over three-years to reduce the incidence and impact of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) in rural communities. NAS is a withdrawal syndrome that can occur in newborns exposed to certain substances, including opioids, during pregnancy. The grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will fund work to improve integrated care and care coordination for pregnant people, mothers and women of childbearing age in the San Luis Valley who have or are at risk of a substance use disorder. 

“This is critical funding needed to continue the work of the San Luis Valley Neonatal Task Force in our community. Unlike other regions that may need to build their capacity, we already have a multidisciplinary task force focused on healthy babies for women with substance use disorder. Our communities have critical services including a methadone clinic, a community mental health center and a federally qualified health center, all skilled in treating opioid use disorders,” said Ruth Horn, the co-founder and coordinator of the San Luis Valley Neonatal Task Force. “Yet 2.8% of births in the San Luis Valley have been diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome. We need this support to combine prenatal services and treatment, help women access those services and de-stigmatize treatment for women to decrease the high rate of NAS in our region.” 

Illuminate Colorado, a statewide nonprofit working to strengthen families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment, is partnering with the San Luis Valley Neonatal Task Force, a group comprised of health care, human service providers and community members that have been impacted by substance use, as well as the San Luis Valley Health, Valley-Wide Health Systems, San Luis Valley Area Health Education Center and Early Childhood Council of San Luis Valley to focus on strategies in prevention, treatment and recovery funded through the grant. Colorado’s award is one of 30 awards nationwide from HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy through the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome which totals nearly $15 million. 

In addition to supporting the work of the San Luis Valley Neonatal Task Force, the grant will provide support for Illuminate Colorado to continue to expand a new program – Illuminating Child Care – in the San Luis Valley by partnering with community-based nonprofits, local substance use disorder treatment providers and government agencies in the area to deliver mobile child care onsite where parents are getting the support that they need to strengthen their families.

“We are very excited to deepen our partnerships in the San Luis Valley to ensure community-based solutions supporting families impacted by substance use disorders have the resources they need to make a difference. When families have information and access to available local resources to meet basic needs, we strengthen the foundation for families and communities to thrive,” said Jade Woodard executive director of Illuminate Colorado.


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