Margo Katz

Substance-Exposed Newborns Program


To improve the health and well-being of prenatal and postnatal persons, their children, and families affected by prenatal substance exposure.

mom with baby

At least five percent of the approximately 10,000 babies born in Rhode Island each year are prenatally exposed to substances like alcohol, cannabis, nicotine, stimulants, and opioids. The Substance-Exposed Newborns Program seeks to ease any potential short- and long-term biopsychosocial effects for these children by offering early interventions and support to local families, such as:

  • Certified peer recovery support
  • Family Visiting
  • Medication assisted treatment
  • Mental health counseling
  • Screenings and referrals
  • Early Intervention
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

    Newborns exposed to opioids and other substances between conception and delivery may experience withdrawal symptoms after birth, a condition known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Babies with NAS may require treatment for withdrawal symptoms and a longer stay in the hospital. In 2022, 59 Rhode Island children were diagnosed with NAS.

    What we do

    • Manage Rhode Island's Plan of Safe Care (POSC) program to support all infants and their families affected by prenatal substance exposure, withdrawal symptoms, or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Plan of Safe Care ensures that infants and caregivers affected by prenatal substance exposure receive the support and services they need and want after hospital discharge. Examples of services include Family Home Visiting, Early Intervention, and recovery supports.
    • Chair the Rhode Island Substance-Exposed Newborns Task Force, a multidisciplinary group of professionals with a vested interest in improving the health and well-being of prenatal and postnatal persons, their children, and families affected by prenatal substance exposure. Aligned with Governor Dan McKee’s Overdose Task Force, the Substance-Exposed Newborns Task Force focuses on care coordination, access to bias-free treatment and prenatal care, and protection of the parent-child relationship. The SEN Task Force meets on the second Tuesday of the month from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Microsoft Teams. Email the Task Force Work Group Chair to confirm meeting times.
    • Deliver the annual Rhode Island Substance-Exposed Newborns Conference. This conference brings together clinical, research, and community content experts to raise awareness of emerging best practices and policy information, as well as statewide resources to support pregnant and postpartum people and their babies and families affected by prenatal substance exposure.

    Help is Available

    If you or someone you know are pregnant and smoke, drink alcohol, take certain prescribed medications, or use cannabis or other drugs, your baby can be exposed to these substances and may need extra support and care. Connect with a peer recovery coach for safe, personalized, and non-judgmental recovery-focused support.

    Anchor Recovery
    401-615-9945 (Warwick) 
    401-721-5100 (Providence)

    Family Visiting

    Parent Support Network of Rhode Island (PSNRI), Healing Mother and Baby
    Call/text: 401-318-9577 (English) (Spanish)

    Rhode Island Community for Addiction Recovery Efforts (RICARES)