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An innovative program known as GunderKids is addressing one of the fastest growing medical problems in our community—substance use disorder and its impact on families, especially children.

GunderKids provides continual support and education to parents with a substance use disorder beginning in their baby’s first year of life. It also provides regular pediatric care.

Research has shown that parents who abuse substances are less likely to function effectively in a parenting role. But most parents who abuse or neglect their child never intend to do so. Despite the struggles that come with a substance use disorder, these parents typically love their kids and want the best for them just like every other parent.

So GunderKids is providing support to help these families succeed. Babies enrolled in the program are seen 17 times in their first year of life. At each visit, the GunderKids-trained medical team (including a clinician, nurse and social worker) evaluates the child’s health, development and basic needs. Caregivers are educated on parenting, nurturing and child development. Caregivers are also contacted frequently, in person and via phone, to address the many questions and stressors that come with being new parents.

Currently, newborns are accepted into the program at the time of birth. Talk to your prenatal care provider or primary care provider during pregnancy if you would like to learn more about GunderKids.

GunderKids is funded, in part, by Gundersen Medical Foundation. To support local families committed to being great parents and you can help by:

  • Make a donation online and designate GunderKids.
  • Mail a donation to: Gundersen Medical Foundation, 1836 South Ave., La Crosse, WI 54601. Make checks payable to Gundersen Medical Foundation and indicate GunderKids in the check memo.
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