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- Circle of Hope
Birth Mothers Network - Circle of Hope
Birth Mothers Network (BMN) was established to support and serve birth families
affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). The Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) FASD Center for Excellence and National
Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) convened the first meeting of birth
mothers in 2005. The vision, mission, and goals of the BMN are as follows:
- Vision—To become a strong national network that will work to
mentor women who are struggling with addiction and with the issues of having a child
or children with an FASD.
- Mission—To increase understanding and support for birth mothers
and to strengthen recovery for women who drank during their pregnancies, as well
as to support their families.
- Goals—To (1) improve and strengthen the lives of birth families,
(2) provide peer support for birth families, and (3) decrease the stigma, blame,
and shame that birth families may experience.
The group meets four times a year—three times by teleconference and once at
an all-day meeting held in conjunction with the Center's annual Building FASD State
Systems conference. At each BMN teleconference or conference members discuss issues
or concerns related to outreach, provide updates on activities in their States,
and provide follow up on action items from the previous meeting. Click
here for data related to BMN membership and activities from August 2011
through June 2012.
Kathleen T. Mitchell is the NOFAS Liaison, a BMN Regional Coordinator, and Project
Director for the BMN. She has served in these roles since the inception of the group.
She may be contacted for additional information about the BMN. Click
here for Ms. Mitchell's contact information.
In support of the BMN's efforts, NOFAS sponsors
The Circle of Hope (COH)
Web page (off of their Web site) for
women in recovery from drug and/or alcohol addiction who have a child/children with
an FASD. They refer to these women as "Warrior Moms." The link includes a calendar
of events, personal stories from Warrior Moms, essays, newsletters, and information
on how birth mothers can find mentors.
To enhance outreach activities, the BMN has designated regional coordinators to
take responsibility for a specific State or group of States. Click
here for information on the regional coordinators' responsibilities.
Recent BMN Activities
A recent focus of the BMN has been to maintain and strengthen the BMN Speakers Bureau.
This year there were 17 conferences and/or workshops that stemmed from the Speakers
Bureau and featured the story of a birth mom. Speakers Bureau members have presented
to legislators, men and women in treatment centers, medical school students, high
school students, and at-risk teens. The members of the BMN Speakers Bureau continue
to plan future speaking engagements. A third peer training was held to train additional
BMN members interested in and qualified for speaking on behalf of the group. To
date, 23 BMN members have been trained as speakers. Click here
for additional information on this peer training.
BMN members who attended one of the peer trainings were also invited to attend a
Center-sponsored Field Trainers Update. This 2-day update brought together people
working in the field of FASD to receive up-to-date information on advances in treatment
and prevention and new directions in science and research.
The BMN members also convened their annual Business Meeting on April 30, 2012, in
Arlington, Virginia. Twenty-six members attended. The agenda included updates from
SAMHSA, NOFAS, and BMN State Coordinators. Kathleen T. Mitchell also discussed member
mentoring, support niches, and ideas for promoting the goals of the group. Presenters
also provided the group with information on sustainability and advocating for accommodations
for children with special needs within the school system.
Another focus of the BMN has been to form collaborations with organizations that
serve birth mothers and with existing FASD Task Forces and FASD State representatives
to strengthen and support the BMN. There are a total of 19 BMN Regional Coordinators
who meet with FASD State Coordinators and FASD Task Forces (where available) to
establish themselves as the birth mother mentor or "go to" person in the region.
In addition, the BMN has worked to establish and maintain partnerships with community
outreach programs and organizations working with birth mothers, such as the Parent-Child
Assistance Program (P-CAP). The BMN has continued to identify new and innovative
strategies for expanding their membership.
Additional Resources Regarding the BMN:
Data Related to BMN Membership and Recent Activities
Below is a summary of the BMN membership, outreach, and other activities in the
last contract year (i.e., August 2011 through June 2012):
Number of active* BMN members
Number of birth mothers in the database
Number of birth mothers trained for the Speakers Bureau
Number of meetings/conferences at which BMN information was displayed
* This number represents those that participate actively with the conference calls,
have participated in meetings or peer training, have responded to mentor requests,
and/or have supported their Regional Coordinator.
Contact Information for Kathleen T. Mitchell
Kathleen T. Mitchell, M.H.S., LCADC
BMN-COH Project Director
National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
1200 Eton Court, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Fax: 202-466-6456 Fax
Information on the BMN Regional Coordinators’ Responsibilities
Members who serve as BMN Regional Coordinators are responsible for the following
- Meeting with FASD State Coordinator(s) (if applicable).
- Discussing the BMN with their State FASD Task Force or FASD Working Group (if applicable).
- Establishing themselves as the birth mother mentor or "go to" person in the region.
Additional Information About the BMN Peer Training
The BMN convened their third peer training March 8-9, 2012, in Fort Lauderdale,
Florida. The training furthered the development of the BMN Speakers Bureau to continue
to support the goals of the BMN. To formalize and increase participation in the
Speakers Bureau, core group members of the BMN with speaking and presentation development
experience provided training to interested and qualified members of the BMN. The
training covered important basics about FASD and discussion of available resources,
FASD systems of care, person-first language, and public speaking. Presentation techniques
and individual learning styles were also covered. Sixteen BMN members received the