HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Mothers dealing with substance use disorder now have a place in Cabell County to seek residential treatment without having to leave their kids elsewhere.

On Thursday, officials with Marshall Health, Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and other Huntington city officials celebrated the grand opening of Project Hope for Women and Children located on Huntington’s 7th Avenue.

With its 18 apartments, the residential center was created to provide a stable and supportive environment for women in recovery along with their children up to age 12.

“Currently, women who are struggling with substance use lack the resources to obtain long-term recovery if they have custody of their children or are working on reunification,” said Dr. Lyn O’Connell, associate director of addiction sciences for Marshall Health.

“In many cases, they have to relinquish the care of the child or leave that child with another family member to enter a residential program.”

Project Hope for Women and Children will change that, O’Connell said, during an interview with MetroNews prior to Thursday afternoon’s ribbon cutting ceremony at the Huntington City Mission Chapel which was followed with an open house next door.

Of the 18 apartments on site with kitchens and living rooms, seven have two bedrooms and 11 come with three bedrooms.

Future plans call for a playground and upgraded outdoor spaces.

The project was being funded with grants from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.

Referrals were coming in via Marshall Health, Valley Health, Child Protective Services, the Healthy Connections Coalition, the Huntington City Mission and others.

O’Connell said there’s also been interest from people stopping by the site during renovations.

The first residents are “in the works,” she said.

Each adult resident will be assigned a personalized treatment plan while living in a secure environment with access to comprehensive resources and support staff 24/7.

Only one other residential treatment facility in West Virginia offers similar services, according to O’Connell.

At FMRS in Beckley, infants up to age 12 months are permitted to stay with their mothers who are in treatment under the Turning Pointe program.

“It’s a huge gap in the current system to promote recovery,” O’Connell said of the need for more such options for mothers.

By keeping kids with their mothers, O’Connell said there’s the potential for breaking any cycles of intergenerational substance use and trauma.

In addiction to drug treatment, “We’ll be working with moms on developing healthy parenting, healthy attachment, life skills, nutrition, health, exercise, wellness — all over all,” she said.

Project Hope for Women and Children has been designed to complement existing services like the Maternal Addiction Recovery Center, Lily’s Place, Recovery Point and Maternal Opioid Medication Support at Cabell-Huntington Hospital.

“If Mom has to choose between her kids and obtaining necessary mental health and substance use treatment, that’s not a choice we want to make anyone have to make,” O’Connell said.

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