Valley Hope - New Directions for Families

Valley Hope - New Directions for Families

Connecting Moms and Kids to a Recovery Village

How Monica Pineda from Valley Hope Prepares Families for Life Beyond Rehabilitation

Every journey of recovery is unique. Much like the painted coffee cups that line the walls of Valley Hope.

It's a tradition for patients completing their treatment to design a coffee mug symbolizing their recovery. Monica Pineda has worked at the outpatient rehabilitation center for four years. She's never seen two people decorate their cups the same.

Monica supports families navigating alcohol and drug rehabilitation at Valley Hope. Through the New Directions program, pregnant women and moms with children 0-12 can receive onsite treatment with their kids alongside them.

As an admissions lead, Monica works with intakes and scheduling. She helps moms determine if the program is a good fit. And she supports moms by helping them create a healthy lifestyle while in recovery.

Outside of Valley Hope, Monica also works as a doula for pregnant women. While helping patients with giving birth isn’t her role at Valley Hope, it does inform her work.

“Obviously I can't be their doula. But we have discussions around pregnancy and birthing and childcare. Just being a mom and all that other good stuff,” she said.

Three levels of support

New Directions offers three levels of support.

The first is 60-days of intensive residential, which offers a highly-structured environment and individualized treatment for moms and their children. They are not allowed outside contact, including cell phones and visitors. While the kids are at school or in the onsite daycare, moms receive treatment.

They also offer a transitional residential program. This allows mom to work on next steps such as finding a job or housing during the day while kids are in school or daycare. It includes individualized treatment and connects moms to housing and community services.

Prior to transitioning out of residential treatment, New Directions helps with relapse prevention. They also connect families to outpatient services to continue with individual and group therapy.

Outside of the safe zone

A big part of Monica’s role as an admissions lead and business office coordinator is preparing her families to navigate life outside of the program. Before she came to Valley Hope in 2020, she worked in the recovery community, which helped her connect moms in treatment with resources outside of their programming.

For example, Monica invites former moms to share their stories.

“The alumni may have gone through programs at different organizations, but for moms and kiddos it’s all the same,” she said. “They come back and speak out and they’re reminded of how far they’ve come on their journeys. And their stories encourage our current moms.”

She's also helped forge community partnerships. One of the biggest challenges moms in recovery face is having safe, sober places to take their kids once they complete the program.

Moms can get memberships to places like The Children's Museum and Butterfly Pavillion. One of Monica's favorite partnerships is with Littleton Playhouse. They provide free tickets.

"Some of our moms have never been to a play, let alone gotten to see a play with their kiddos. They see what it's like to dress up and have fun experiences."

Affording a sober lifestyle

Moms can't work while receiving intensive residential treatment. So money is an issue for many. Many don't have family support or much work experience. Many face homelessness upon completion of the program.

The team at New Directions for Families does their best to connect everyone to housing. No one has ever left without any options, but a few times they did need to place people into family homeless shelters.

They work with various housing programs across the Denver-metro area, including nonprofits, sober living facilities, and Section 8.

The lack of options concerns Monica.

“We need longer-term sobriety houses. We need to figure out a way that they can leave this really close, tight bubble of rehabilitation to a slow, gradual shift into the real world. Give them some sobriety time under their belt to find work and do adult things and not have it feel so overwhelming.”

It takes a village

Monica is proud of the support moms and kids receive through New Directions.

It's special to her that kids get to stay with mom as she gets healthy. She's formed relationships with older kids, including a 12-year-old who helped her fold and distribute linens. She cried the day he and his mom hung their coffee cups.

“It was just this amazing experience to be able to show these kiddos healthy relationships with adults. It's phenomenal for them to be able to see adults who are healthy. I make sure that the older kids that leave have our card. I tell them, 'If you guys ever feel like you need help or you want to talk, you can call us too. Just because you and your mom are leaving doesn't mean you have to leave us.'"

Monica reminds everyone she works with that it takes a village to succeed in life.

“We all need a village. It’s about trying to partner and find our village so we can all work together.”

It's why she stays connected to Denver's recovery community as a whole.

"We all need to be collaborating together," she said. "Everybody's recovery is going to be 100% different."

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