In September 2003, the National Organization for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) held a “Hope for Women in Recovery Summit” in Baltimore. Many key policy makers, including several Maryland legislators, attended the Summit. Delegate Pauline Menes (D-Prince George’s and Anne Arundel) became a champion for FASD.
At the request of Delegate Menes, an FASD Work Group was convened in July 2004 by DHMH and the Governor’s Office on Crime Control and Prevention. DHMH assumed sole responsibility for leadership and staffing of the work group in December 2004.
Work group membership was drawn from the State agencies serving children and families, including the Maryland Department of Human Resources and the Maryland State Department of Education. Private sector representation included Kathleen Mitchell, Vice President of the National Organization for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome; Dr. Paula Lockhart, a child psychiatrist with the Kennedy Krieger Institute; Janet and Dave Duncan, parents of an adult child with fetal alcohol syndrome; and Delegate Menes.
Over the twelve month period July 2004-August 2005, the work group invited parents and other guests to share expertise and experience in FASD; reviewed medical literature and reports; considered how other states were addressing FASD, and developed a Mission, and Goals for a broader statewide FASD Coalition. During this year, members of the work group also began individually and collectively to raise public awareness of FASD through presentations and publications in public venues. In July 2005, FASD was named as a new priority in the Maryland Title V- MCH Block Grant Five-Year Needs Assessment. The work group issued a final report and recommendations, which were shared with the House Special Committee on Alcohol and Substance Abuse at a hearing in late October 2005. Key recommendations:
Establish a Maryland State FASD Coalition, led and staffed by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. (A Coalition Kick-Off meeting was held in November 2005)
Establish a State FASD Coordinator within the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. (Mary Diane Johnson has been named State FASD Coordinator by the Center for Maternal and Child Health)
Develop a long-range plan for increasing awareness of FASD among health and social services professionals, substance abuse treatment program staff, juvenile services agency staff, the faith community, businesses and industry.
Seek funding opportunities for a five-year public awareness campaign.
Develop a comprehensive action plan for prevention of FASD and improving the system of care for families and individuals affected by FASD.