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TRENTON - Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Commissioner Elizabeth Connolly today announced that the DHS’ Office for the Prevention of Developmental Disabilities has awarded State Fiscal Year 2016 funds to three projects dedicated to the prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).Funding is awarded for FASD prevention projects to: Youth Consultation Services, Statewide Parent Advocacy Network and the Family Guidance Center, Prenatal Screening Project.

“These three special projects, dedicated to the prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, will raise awareness related to the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy,” said Acting Commissioner Connolly.  “Any child, whose mother drinks during pregnancy, has the risk of disabilities associated with prenatal alcohol exposure and these three grants will inform women of the risks and potential consequences to the health of their babies.” 

The following grants were reviewed and approved by the Office for the Prevention of Developmental Disabilities (OPDD) and the Governor’s Council on the Prevention of Developmental Disabilities:

LifeChoices Project, of Youth Consultation Services, $125,000, is an intellectual and developmental disabilities prevention and risk reduction project to prevent FASD, improve teens' and women's understanding of the maternal and fetal harms related to alcohol consumption and identify drinking during pregnancy through screening assessments and interventions and/or referral for treatment.

Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN), $124,905, increases the knowledge of health care providers, through an on-line training course on FASD, and how to use effective screening tools and available community resources and supports.  The grant also will improve access to culturally, linguistically and socio-economically relevant peer-to-peer support for women at risk of having a child with FASD, in collaboration with community-based providers that serve the most at risk women of childbearing age. 

Family Guidance Center, Prenatal Screening Project, $141,500, is a partner project with DHS’ Division of Mental Health & Addiction Services, during which prenatal clients are screened using the Perinatal Addictions Prevention Project screening tool by Family Guidance Center counselors. If problem is identified during screening, further assessment is conducted and if there is a need for a higher level of care patients are referred to outside agencies. 

The GCPDD and the OPDD were created by Public Law 1987, Chapter 5, as amended by Public Law 2000, Chapter 82. The Council is an advisory body to OPDD and to the Commissioner of DHS. The Council is comprised of twenty-five public members, appointed by the Governor; and the Commissioners, or their designees, of DHS, Community Affairs, Education, Health and Environmental Protection and the Secretary of State who serve as ex officio members. GCPDD includes the Task Force on FASD and Other Perinatal Addictions to focus on the prevention of FASD and to promote effective, life-long interventions for individuals affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol and other substances. 

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