Treatment and prevention of illicit substance use among pregnant and early parenting women

This grant is for the development of a peer-based arm of the HerWay Home (HWH) program. The HWH program first emerged as a grassroots idea in the capital regional district of Victoria, BC in 2007. A multi-agency collaboration of more than 30 agencies joined together to build an alternative care model for pregnant and early parenting women who use substances and face multiple life challenges. The program is just opening its doors and offers a variety of programs and services designed to meet the diverse needs of the local community.

The HWH program model is designed to be cross-sectoral, community-based, single access (“one-stop shop”) and culturally safe. The theoretical foundations of service and care delivery are: women-centred, child-focused, family-oriented, trauma-informed and harm reduction. The HWH core program services will include basic needs support (e.g., nutrition and child minding) primary health and perinatal services, counselling for substance use, trauma and mental health counselling, and a housing allowance component. Short-term stabilization housing for women exiting detox and second stage supportive housing with wrap-around services are planned for 2013. HWH’s planning phase has been supported by research from two CIHR-funded grants aimed at developing a workable human resources framework, including identification of barriers to, and facilitators of teamwork among, a mix of providers.

Funding bodies: Queen Alexandra Hospital Foundation, United Way of Greater Victoria, a private donation, and CIHR Catalyst Grant: Prevention and Treatment of Illicit Substance Use

Progress to date: The first stage of the research has been completed, the data analyzed, a Masters thesis successfully defended, and two papers under preparation to be submitted for publication. The next phase of the project is underway, which involves interviews with a larger, more diverse sample of pregnant and early parenting women and their partners affected by substance use, poverty, lack of housing, violence and other life challenges.


  • Dr. Cecilia Benoit (Co-PI)
  • Marcellus, L. (Co-PI)
  • Anderson, K. (Co-I)
  • Hallgrimsdottir, H. (Co-I)
  • MacKinnon, K. (Co-I)