WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities launches international training curriculum to support engagement and child development for families impacted by substance use disorder

Thursday, April 27, 2023

MORGANTOWN, W.Va – West Virginia University is now offering an international training curriculum to support West Virginia families in recovery and their children who have experienced prenatal exposure.

The Brazelton Touchpoints Center Learning Network has certified the Center for Excellence in Disabilities (CED) as the new training site with faculty from the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry and the WVU School of Nursing.

Brazelton Touchpoints is an evidence-based approach to building strengths-based, collaborative family-provider partnerships in service of strong, healthy family-child relationships from before birth throughout early childhood. The Brazelton Touchpoints Center has collaborated with the IMPACT WV program at the CED to make training opportunities like this one available to the state’s community of family-facing providers.

The Touchpoints training recognizes the process of disorganization and regression that occurs during predictable times throughout a child's development — called “touchpoints.” Knowledge of these touchpoints and strategies for dealing with them can help reduce negative interactions that might otherwise throw the child’s development off course. The Touchpoints approach views these times as important opportunities to connect and work alongside the family to support caregivers' emotional availability and sensitive responsiveness to their child.

Sue Workman, BS, CCRP, Touchpoints certified facilitator and site coordinator stated, “I am honored to be one of 70 Training Site Members across the country and around the world building capacity with the first and only Touchpoints Training Site located in West Virginia. Working as the Program Manager for IMPACT WV, our mission is to increase communication across providers, comprehensive services directed to families and coordination of services. Training and mentoring providers on the Touchpoints approach alongside Amanda and Tina supports the mission by propelling healthy family and children development in our rural communities.”

Collaboration with West Virginia families is essential. Families statewide are experiencing high instances of substance use disorder, with the state ranking first for overdose deaths as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the US Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHR) annual Child Maltreatment report, West Virginia also had the second-highest rate of child abuse and neglect in the country. 

Amanda Newhouse, LICSW and assistant professor in the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute’s Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry stated, “I absolutely love working with families and utilizing this highly effective approach! I am honored to be able to share and expand this knowledge across WV. When a family is struggling with a substance use disorder (SUD) it can be a trying time for the entire family system. It can cause stress and disorganization, especially when bringing a new life into the world. Being emotionally available for another individual while managing your own emotions is a task for any parent. The Brazelton Touchpoints is a strengths-based approach that weaves in the understanding of a child’s developmental framework to understand, support and improve the relational framework in the parent child dyad and with the provider as well. This approach supports these families to live happy, healthy lives!”

“The Touchpoints approach requires providers to explore their cultural upbringing and consider how their perspectives may influence relationships with others,” said Dr. Tina Antill Keener, Assistant Professor with the WVU School of Nursing. “When working with parents with SUD, this reflective practice is critical to combat stigma through understanding the assumptions we bring to the interactions so we can provide compassionate care. Touchpoints offers a way to join the family system and discover their culture and better understand their needs, deviating from the traditional model of seeking what is wrong and giving standard prescriptive advice.”

IMPACT WV is working with communities to create opportunities and address the needs of children diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) or who were exposed to substances in utero. To learn more, please visit https://wvimpact.org/.



CONTACT: Melina Danko
Assistant Director of Communications and Marketing
WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities
304-293-4265; mdanko@hsc.wvu.edu