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Montefiore in the News

November 1, 2022

BRONX, NY – Novemeber 1, 2022 The Administration for Children and Families, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has awarded researchers at Montefiore Health System a $3 million grant to improve the well-being of families by helping fathers with substance use disorders. The new grant aims to enhance a regional partnership between addiction treatment programs, child welfare services and government agencies.

In the United States, 8.7 million children live in households with at least one parent who has a substance use disorder. In the Bronx, where there are more overdoses than in any other U.S. county, substance use disorders are a significant challenge, and child welfare outcomes are sub-optimal, despite New York City having one of the most comprehensive and fully-funded child welfare services.

Through the new grant, Montefiore will enroll 240 Bronx fathers who have been identified as being at risk for substance misuse and are referred by medical providers or child welfare agencies. Fathers will be randomly assigned to two groups to evaluate each program’s impact on parent and child outcomes.

The majority of participants will receive a number of enhanced fatherhood services including

enrollment in Montefiore’s HERO Dads program, which focuses on achieving family and financial success by improving conflict management and communication skills, while strengthening parenting and co-parenting skills. Fathers will also receive motivational enhancement services to change unhealthy behaviors, and case management support to improve access to clinical, social and employment resources. Additionally, they will receive contingency management therapy, a form of treatment that uses different types of rewards to reinforce healthy behaviors.

A smaller number of fathers will be offered currently available services through local and federal programs like the NYC Department of Youth & Community Development Father Initiative, which focuses on the development of essential parenting skills, but without further enhancements, as a comparison.

“The Bronx represents the highest-need families served by the child welfare system,” said Scott Wetzler, PhD, vice president, Behavioral Health Management, Montefiore, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “By engaging fathers who have opioid or alcohol use disorders, which we know is often related to a history of trauma, we hope to better understand their behaviors, and align with welfare services on how best to improve the wellbeing of the whole family.”

This new funding builds on Montefiore’s HERO Dads program and mirrors strategies the health system has successfully leveraged to help mothers with substance use disorders to reduce their anxiety and distress, while improving their parenting skills. These initiatives also led to improvements in children’s relationships with peers, self-esteem and school performance.

Additionally, to better serve Bronx families, Montefiore will establish regular meetings to collaborate closely with the offices of New York City Administration for Children’s Services, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports, and the New York City Office of Child Support Services. As part of the grant, information will be aggregated and reviewed to evaluate the effectiveness of the program, rates of engagement and overall findings.

“The role of fathers can be paramount to a family’s stability,” said Anita Jose, PhD, director of Child Welfare Programs at Montefiore's University Behavioral Associates, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Einstein. “By studying new ways to engage dads and building on our close relationships with government agencies, we have an opportunity to break cycles of adverse childhood experiences and create new ways to care for the children and parents of the Bronx and beyond.”


About Montefiore Health System

Montefiore Health System is one of New York’s premier academic health systems and is a recognized leader in providing exceptional quality and personalized, accountable care to approximately three million people in communities across the Bronx, Westchester, and the Hudson Valley. It is comprised of 10 hospitals, including the Children's Hospital at Montefiore, Burke Rehabilitation Hospitaland more than 200 outpatient ambulatory care sites. The advanced clinical and translational research at its medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, directly informs patient care and improves outcomes. From the Montefiore-Einstein Centers of Excellence in cancer, cardiology and vascular care, pediatrics, and transplantation, to its preeminent school-based health program, Montefiore is a fully integrated healthcare delivery system providing coordinated, comprehensive care to patients and their families. For more information, please visit Follow us on Twitter and Instagram and LinkedIn, or view us on Facebook and YouTube.