CLEARFIELD COUNTY, PA (WTAJ) — REST, Inc., a local non-profit organization, is excited to announce a new support program coming to the Clearfield area which will help children impacted by parental substance use disorder.

The organization is dedicated to supporting kinship families or caregivers who take on the care of a child for various reasons. A parent or parents dealing with substance use disorder is the number one reason; parents who are serving prison sentences is a close second, according to studies across the United States and in Pennsylvania.

Bobbie Johnson, Founder/CEO of REST, Inc., sees this happening in the families REST works with and says that it extends beyond just kinship care.

“According to data provided by the National Association of Children of Addiction (NACoA), one in four children in the United States is exposed to alcohol misuse or alcohol dependence in the family. And that doesn’t take into account those living in families where there is illicit drug use,” Johnson said. “When you read these statistics, see it all around you, and talk to leaders in the community about how substance use is impacting all areas of our community, you realize it reaches so many. And it’s traumatic, so how do we mitigate the circumstances? How do we support those who are impacted by the disease of Substance Use Disorder, give them hope, and lead them to a path of recovery? We do something.”

That “something” has become a partnership between REST, Inc., the Clearfield Area School District, and the Clearfield County Career and Technology Center where educational support groups will be offered within both schools. These educational support groups will be embedded in the school day and are preventive interventions to benefit both the affected children and their parents or other family members.

“Knowing that its an outgrowth of those kinship families, they already struggle with items like transportation before school, after school, what all is happening in their lives so what we thought was pivotal to provide time in school for this to occur,” Clearfield Area School District Superintendent Terry Struble said.

The Children’s Program Kit, developed by NACoA and the core of this project, is designed to reduce the amount of unfortunate childhood experiences through a group setting that offers an education and safe environment where children can express their feelings freely, build a sense of belonging, reduce isolation and enhance protective factors.

These education support groups will officially begin in October 2022, with school and community roll-out beginning in September. Along with support from the school district, REST is also thrilled to have the backing of the Clearfield-Jefferson Drug and Alcohol Commission.

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REST hopes to see this program extend throughout the county and would encourage other school districts to consider implementing such a program.

More information about this program can be found online at www.restfamilies.org.