County worker quits job to start recovery center for addicted mothers

jhickey@thetribunenews.comAugust 14, 2013 

After no one responded to a county request for proposals to run a recovery center for substance-addicted pregnant and parenting women, a Drug and Alcohol Services staffer has quit her job to create the program.

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors recently approved a $245,000 contract for fiscal year 2013-14 with Bryan’s House, run by Sandy Wortley, a registered addiction specialist and longtime county staffer.

Wortley was unavailable Wednesday for comment.

The Paso Robles facility will provide alcohol and drug-free housing to pregnant and parenting women who have been referred by the county’s drug dependency court, according to Teresa Pemberton, who leads the perinatal program for Drug and Alcohol Services.

These clients “may not be able to stay clean in their own environments,” Pemberton said.

Choices House, with which the county previously contracted to provide residential drug counseling, closed in 2012; since then no such facility has operated in San Luis Obispo County.

That means when addicted pregnant or parenting women were ordered by the court to attend residential counseling, they had to be sent to a facility in Santa Barbara County, at an additional cost to San Luis Obispo County.

A request for proposals to replace Choices House received no applicants, so that’s when Wortley stepped up, Pemberton said.

The facility can accommodate up to five mothers and 10 children at a time, with priority for pregnant women addicted to injection drugs, according to the agency’s contract.

“The program provides the parents with ongoing treatment for their substance-abuse disorder along with parenting classes and regular court appearances in order to keep them accountable,” said the San Luis Obispo County Health Agency’s contract request to the Board of Supervisors.

The program is funded by a Family Drug Court grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a federal agency.

Bryan’s House is scheduled to open Sept. 1.

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