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State could soon have a “plan of safe care” for newborns born into a situation where there is addiction or drug misuse


A bill that would develop a ”plan of safe care” for newborns that are born into a situation where there is addiction or drug misuse has passed its first reading in the Wyoming State Senate. The Senate Labor, Health, and Social Services Committee voted unanimously in its favor before it reached the floor.

The bill would require healthcare providers to make a plan to ensure the safety and wellbeing of an infant with prenatal substance use exposure following the baby’s release from the healthcare provider–whether that be with resources or follow up appointments. Lindsey Schilling, senior administrator of the social services division for the Wyoming Department of Family Services, said there's a national increase in substance use.

“So any focus on providing support to moms and babies prior to protective custody or the need to separate families is a very good thing,” Schilling said in testimony to committee members.

Shilling said that in 2022, there were 132 reports of infants with substance exposure. A third of those babies are currently in custody. Erin McKinney, the director of women and children services at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, said this is a great step to not criminalizing women.

“We would love as the culture changes to where moms feel comfortable knowing that there's something in the plans for them when they come to the hospital and are discharged,”McKinney said.

The idea is to try to get moms into services that could help them with their addiction, as well as keep an eye on the baby during its most critical first year. The exact details of how this care plan would be created and executed would be developed if the bill passes.

1/20/23 Update: The house passed the bill on a third reading. It now goes to the senate.

Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.
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