1994 Finalist
State of Ohio
Innovations in American Government Awards
Innovations in American Government Awards

In the late 1980s, crack cocaine use was high among America's urban population. What made this drug epidemic unique was the number of women, moreover women with children, who were users. Between the late 1980s and early 1990s reports estimated that nearly 100,000 babies a year were being born to crack abusing mothers. These children ran the risk of often associated child abuse, neglect and poor health care. Children born to crack abusing mothers, also faced a higher likelihood of later involvement with child welfare, either as part of the foster care or juvenile justice systems.

These possible outcomes made a preventative program easily justifiable for Cuyahoga County, Ohio policymakers. The Miracle Village is a comprehensive drug and alcohol abuse treatment program for women and children public housing residents. The Program, which spans twenty-four months total, begins with a ninety day withdraw and treatment period, in which participants' movement is restricted within a closed and secure apartment building. Following this intense initial phase, the family moves to a group of apartments nearby called Recovery Village where they live for the next twenty-one months. Only if they remain drug and alcohol free are residents guaranteed housing.

In the Recovery Village services are offered in collaboration with a number of community resources. Families participate in basic chemical dependency treatment, educational and vocational programs, family budgeting, nutrition, and wellness classes. The final objective before the conclusion of Miracle Village treatment is to instill in the children of drug and alcohol abusing parents the capacity ‘for achievement within the stress of an adverse environment.

Miracle Village cites its ability to brining together a variety of resources to address the many needs of drug afflicted families as its greatest achievement. In two years, the village has reunited twenty-eight families that were formerly separated; in the majority of cases,, parents were pulled out of homelessness and children were taken out of foster care to be reunited with their families. A number of parents have begun to work and even pursue degrees as a result of The Village's employment programs. Overall, seventy-five percent of program participants have remained sober.