STEP2 is a private non-profit located in Reno that has been serving Northern Nevada since 1986 with a mission to provide comprehensive, coordinated services related to the treatment and recovery of chemically dependent women and their families, resulting in sustainable self-sufficiency. STEP2 pioneered gender-specific treatment for women in Nevada in 1986, and currently provides state-of-the-art care for pregnant and parenting women and their children within the context of seamless service delivery that includes outpatient and intensive outpatient treatment coupled with transitional housing.

STEP2 provides compassionate, flexible, individualized treatment programs for chemically dependent women in a safe environment, respecting the client and her personal treatment needs and utilizing current addiction and mental health protocols.  Treatment focuses on empowering each client to succeed and become a productive member of society while supporting and encouraging her recovery.  STEP2 firmly believes that effective substance abuse treatment for women must be culturally competent, and incorporate services related to parenting education, educational and vocational training, job placement assistance, access to appropriate medical care, and psychosocial education related to women’s issues. Included in this effective treatment model is the understanding that basic needs such as safety, transportation, and childcare must be provided before a woman can engage completely in the recovery process. STEP2 ensures the delivery of services that meet this standard through a comprehensive quality improvement plan that measures success in five domains: sobriety, housing, employment, family stability, and overall well being.

Because of the well-documented link between those in need of substance abuse services and those not receiving them due to lack of resources, reduced funding, and staff shortages, the dearth of specialized services geared toward the needs of chemically dependent women, especially women caring for dependent children, is especially alarming.  Such specialized services include childcare, services to address parental stress, economic and education issues, psychological services, health care issues, domestic violence services, and more.  Data gathered in the most recently conducted state needs assessment indicates that nearly 1 in 5 women of childbearing age (15-44) residing in Washoe County are in need of substance abuse treatment (SAPTA, 2007). However, less than 3% percent of these women received treatment with their children in 2007 – only 160 of the estimated 6,588 mothers in need. Of the 160 mothers, 61% received services through STEP2. Of the 3,455 women who were admitted into publicly funded treatment programs in Nevada during the past year, 219 were pregnant at the time of admission, and 62% had dependent children (SAPTA, 2007).  Literature on the consequences of parental substance abuse consistently demonstrates that social and family problems such as domestic violence, criminal activity, and economic difficulties are directly related to substance abuse, and have been associated with heightened potential for child abuse/neglect, combined with involvement in the criminal justice system. Clearly, there is a pressing need for   innovative programs that can reduce the heavy impact of the multiple issues associated with parental substance abuse.