FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Patrick Seidl, Development & Communications Coordinator
Phone: 410-828-6761 (office); 443-764-6406 (cell)
Symposium Addresses Critical Needs of Children Living With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
ANNAPOLIS – On Friday, January 27, 2017, nearly 150 child welfare, legal, education and health professionals, volunteers, and parents attended Maryland Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association’s Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Symposium at the Judicial College Education & Conference Center in Annapolis, MD.
The event featured seven captivating sessions lead by national experts on FASD who provided an expansive overview of the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and implications of FASD. FASD is the most common cause of intellectual disabilities in the United States, affecting at least one percent (recent estimates are 2-5 percent) of the general population and up to seventy percent of children and youth in foster care.
“We were honored to host this important event on such a critical issue,” said Ed Kilcullen, LCSW-C Maryland CASA’s state director. “With as many as 70% of the children CASA serves being impacted by FASD, we were compelled to provide an opportunity for not only CASA volunteers and staff to be educated, but professionals from all disciplines as well.”
Event partners included the National Organization for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS), Disability Rights Maryland, the National Disability Rights Network, and the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council.
“FASD is a huge problem in Maryland. But this is a problem we can actually solve. We must do more to educate all Marylanders about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy, or at risk for pregnancy. Women that are not able to stop drinking alcohol on their own should be referred to an addiction professional or center,” said Kathy Mitchell, vice-president & spokesperson for NOFAS, who spoke at the symposium.
The prevalence of FASD far surpasses that of Trisomy 21, cerebral palsy and autism combined, yet most children and adults with this disorder are never diagnosed as having neurodevelopmental disability secondary to fetal alcohol exposure.
“The symposium was excellent,” said Angela Warrick, a CASA volunteer in Montgomery County working with a child who she believes may be affected by prenatal drug and alcohol exposure. “It gave me an awareness of what could possibly be going on in my CASA child’s life since she came from a mother who used and still uses drugs and alcohol.”
Delegate Brooke Lierman (District 46, Baltimore City) was in attendance at the event and addressed the crowd, stressing the importance of educating the community on the prevalence and implications of FASD.
“While we were able to reach a wide variety of individuals through the Symposium, it was only our first step toward spreading awareness of FASD and ensuring that professionals and volunteers working with this population are adequately prepared and educated on how it can affect children and families,” said Kilcullen.
About Maryland CASA Association
Maryland CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Association is the statewide organization for the 15 local CASA programs that recruit and train volunteers to advocate for children in the child protection system. Last year, 1,371 CASA volunteers served 1,589 children in Baltimore City and 20 of Maryland’s 23 counties. Maryland CASA supports the local CASA programs by providing training and technical assistance to program staff, board, and volunteers, as well as increasing public awareness of CASA and assisting with program development. For more information about Maryland CASA or becoming a CASA volunteer, visit www.marylandcasa.org or call 410-828-6761.
Notes to Editors:
- As the leading identifiable cause of intellectual disability, 14 children with FASD are born each week in Maryland
- There are 735 new cases involving FASD in Maryland each year
- 13,230 people with FASD ages birth-18 live in Maryland; an estimated 12,560 remain undiagnosed
- Estimated lifetime cost of care: $2.4 million per case
- ADHD is seven times more common in children with FASD; learning disabilities three to five times more common
- Juvenile detentions are 19 times more common in youth with FASD
- For more information on FASD, visit the NOFAS website: nofas.org