If you're looking for the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS) you have come to the right place. We have some exciting news about our organization. We have a new name! MOFAS has officially been renamed Proof Alliance. Our mission remains the same: to prevent prenatal alcohol exposure and to improve the quality of life for people living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).
We now have the proof that prenatal alcohol exposure is a leading cause of brain injury in children. We have the proof that FASD is 100% preventable and people living with an FASD can reach 100% of their potential.
We seek to build powerful alliances with people with an FASD, their families, legislators, experts in the field, new partners, and community members to bring awareness, research, and services to this field.
Proof Alliance is rebranding, expanding, and we're moving! We have a new logo, website, and prevention campaign to help change the norms around drinking during pregnancy. And in May 2019 we will be moving to a stand-alone building. Proof Alliance commits to the people of Minnesota and we will continue to develop transformative programs to help Minnesotans impacted by FASD.
Addressing the Issue
FASD is often misunderstood; typically there is a misconception that it is a mental health condition. However, it is not: it is a medical condition. Therefore, a mental health approach does not take into account or address the lifelong implications of the disability. With mental health services the goal is often on stabilizing an individual with a condition. It is critical to understand that FASD is a primary disability and the brain injury associated with prenatal alcohol exposure must be addressed.
Currently, some individuals with an FASD do qualify for developmental disability (DD) services because they meet the IQ cut-off for services. However, some individuals with an FASD who do not meet the IQ cut-off for DD services could be well served under the Community Access for Disability Inclusion (CADI) waiver, or when warranted, the brain injury (BI) waiver.
With some individuals qualifying for DD services and some qualifying under CADI or BI we would be in a better position to address the spectrum of the condition.
Beyond creating access to possible brain injury-focused services through expanding the definition of brain injury by removing the congenital exemption, there is opportunity for educating providers in other arenas, including the education, corrections, and health care systems.
To better serve individuals with FASD, we propose changing the brain injury definition. MOFAS recommends changing the language in state statute to make brain injury services available to people with an FASD when appropriate.
Addressing the Issue
When given the right supports, mothers who are chemically dependent can be healthy, maintain sobriety, and be good parents. Children of these mothers do better: these children are more prepared for kindergarten, and families are less likely to become involved with the child protection system.
The Community of Recovery Aiding Families in Transition (CRAFT) prevention program serves women with a history of chemical dependency or abuse who are either pregnant or parenting dependent children in Olmsted County. In one six-month reporting period, in 2016, 99 women and 101 children were served by this program at an average yearly cost of $3,000 per family. One woman in the program had a positive toxicology report.
The programs address the root problems for the most vulnerable families and reduce health disparities.
The Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS) recommends a $500,000 appropriation to expand the program in underserved regions.
Advocacy efforts during the 2015 legislative session helped MOFAS secure funding for the Community of Recovery Aiding Families in Transition (CRAFT) Program in Olmsted County. CRAFT helps support women who are chemically dependent to maintain a healthy sober life and help become better equipped parents. When mothers are supported and receive the help and resources they need, they not only become successful and healthy, they also parent more positively. CRAFT continues to be funded and has had successful outcomes.
When Kelly* came to CRAFT, she was struggling as a new mom of a two-month-old daughter and was under the influence of heroin and alcohol. She lived and worked in a toxic environment that made it a struggle for her to stay sober. With help from CRAFT, Kelly received the supports and services she needed to become sober. Kelly knew that if she continued to work for her family-owned restaurant serving alcohol, she would not be able to stay sober; CRAFT was able to help her find other employment options. Kelly attended AA/NA meetings, had a sponsor, and started building healthy relationships with other members in CRAFT.
CRAFT created an easy-to-follow, step-by-step approach to problem solving, planning, and support, for Kelly’s goals, which helped her become a better mom. Kelly has successfully embraced a sober and healthy lifestyle for her and her daughter.
Kelly achieved many of her goals during the year she was supported by CRAFT:
*Names have been changed to allow for privacy.
Here in Minnesota, 7,000 babies are born every year with prenatal alcohol exposure1. Alcohol is a teratogen that crosses the placenta and can cause permanent brain damage that harms the way a child learns and behaves. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is the umbrella term used to describe the myriad issues that result when alcohol is consumed during pregnancy.
Addressing the Issue
The challenge faced by society is that simply telling women not to drink during pregnancy understates the complexity of the issue. Providing sound public health information to childbearing aged families is, indeed, part of the solution. However, as a state, we must address the deeper issues that are part of truly understanding how to prevent FASD and how to ensure that people who are living with this challenge are able to fully engage in their communities as active, productive, and healthy citizens.
In 2004, a grant was awarded by the Minnesota Department of Health to the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS) to address this issue. MOFAS was charged with developing a comprehensive strategy to address FASD through diagnostic services, community grants, intervention and family support, public awareness, and professional education.