There is broad agreement among drug counselors and health professionals that more treatment programs must be created for addicted parents and their children. But those working the front lines believe other actions also are critical. Here are some of their suggestions:
* Every agency that comes in contact with women and children--schools, hospitals, social service agencies or welfare programs--must work harder to identify children in substance-abusing families. A 1992 survey of 72 hospitals found that less than half had any protocol to identify children of female patients who abused alcohol and narcotics.
* Women jailed for drug offenses should be allowed to serve their sentences in residential drug treatment programs, preferably with their children. Incarcerating such women, advocates say, does not address the cause of their problem, further harms their children and costs taxpayers more in the long run.
* Drug treatment providers and welfare agencies should offer family planning services. A UCLA study shows that 60% of women who have given birth to one drug-exposed baby go on to have another. Some experts believe that welfare agencies should make payments contingent upon random drug tests.