The number of organizations and advocates dedicated to addressing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders–and their influence and effectiveness–is steadily growing, leading to more education about Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (PAE) and more resource options for individuals and families.
Two organizations have joined the Affiliate Network this year, FASD Northern California and Frontier Community Services in Alaska, bringing the membership to 33 organizations. FASD Northern California held a successful conference last month sponsored by University of California, San Francisco Children’s Benioff Hospital, featuring Sarah Mattson, a prominent FASD researcher and member of the Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
Frontier Community Services provides quality services for people of all ages who have a disability from in and around the Kenai Peninsula Borough in Alaska, where FASD rates have been higher than other communities. Frontier offers FASD diagnostic services, a range of training programs, and other vital resources.
MOFAS, the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome was the first NOFAS affiliate when the Network was founded in 2002. A powerhouse organization founded by former Minnesota First Lady Susan Carlson that sets the standard as a full service agency addressing all facets of the issue, MOFAS has an important influence in the FASD community beyond the Minnesota state lines and is the model for organizations addressing PAE and FASD.
Since the Network was established the capacity of its member organizations to meet the needs of their communities has grown sharply. Organizations such as Double ARC in Ohio provide desperately needed clinical services and almost all the affiliates regularly hold conferences, trainings, lawmaker briefings, support groups, or other community gatherings.
FASD Communities is dedicated to to providing supportive housing, vocational opportunities and life skills to young adults, and other member organizations hold youth summer camps or bring an important international perspective from Canada, United Kingdom and Australia.
The Affiliate Network itself is planning for the annual Affiliate Summit to be held June 12-14 in Washington, D.C. Affiliate representatives will exchange ideas, forge partnerships, and brief lawmakers about the challenges of FASD in their communities.
A primary topic of discussion at the Summit and throughout 2017 is the critical need to identify and secure funding. Federal support for non-research FASD projects is down nearly $10 million since 2014 resulting in the loss of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration-supported FASD Center for Excellence.
NOFAS will be looking at private foundations and other potential donors this year to support the Network and is urging affiliates to expand their fundraising outreach.
NOFAS encourages organizations to apply to join the Network. The Affiliate Guidelines describe the mission and purpose of the Network, and any organization, university program, state agency, or Tribal organization can complete the two-page application and submit it to NOFAS for consideration by the Affiliate Executive Council.
An infusion of donations and grants in support of NOFAS and each Affiliate Network member organization is essential to turn the steady progress into truly meaningful growth and change that helps children and adults living with disabilities and reduces the incidence of PAE and FASD.