Crystal Smith pic

CRYSTAL SMITH

MANSFIELD — Mill Cove Environmental Area and Education Center cut a check to help infants in Tioga County who are born dependent on illicit drugs.

On Nov. 23, Mill Cove presented $7,000 to Robin Adams in support of Asa’s Place, a care facility she’s developing to care for children like the facility’s namesake, her son Asa, who was born to drug-dependent parents.

“We’re gonna save a lot of babies together,” said Adams at the presentation.

Mill Cove raised the funds through a Clays for Kids event, held in October. The event raised $14,000, which was divided between Mill Cove and Asa’s Place.

The goal of the event, said event organizer Mark Hamilton, is to financially support organizations that are breaking the cycle of drug addiction.

The inaugural event received much support from the community, he said, who provided snacks, coffee and items for a chance auction.

“I would love to see this turn into a movement to save our kids in Tioga County,” he said. “So many things are competing for them and they are not good things. We need to be concentrating on breaking the cycle of what that might be.”

Asa’s Place would be a first step, helping infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome overcome their dependency. The event will also sponsor groups offering alternate activities like those provided at Mill Cove as children grow older.

“What a neat way to encourage people who love the outdoors to love others,” said Adams. “People understood what you’re doing to benefit children to grow up and love the outdoors.”

Matt Baker, regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said 1,700 babies will be born with NAS this year. Facilities like Asa’s Place provide a place where the infants — and parents — can be nurtured in a healthy place.

“I applaud you, Robin, for your leadership and vision for bringing this nurturing and healing environment to NAS babies,” said Baker. “Most can enjoy a full recovery in such an environment.”

Infants with NAS don’t thrive in neonatal intensive care units, said Adams. They often don’t need that level of medical care, which ties up space for infants who do.

Instead, Asa’s Place will provide a warm, quiet, homelike environment where children can receive the medical care and nurturing they need.

Adams is currently looking for property to build the facility. Some of the funding from Clays for Kids will be used to develop a website to spread the word about Asa’s Place.

She’s also assembling the team that will oversee care for the infants: a medical director, nursing staff and volunteer “cuddlers.”

She hopes to one day be able to take children who received care at Asa’s Place to visit Mill Cove.

“So you guys can look back and know what you did,” she told those assembled.

Baker noted that recent legislation will allow Medicaid to reimburse facilities like Asa’s Place for the care provided to children. That can be a cost savings for taxpayers as the NICU can cost $2,000 a day more than a facility like Asa’s Place.