Center for Behavioral Research and Services

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Project BOAST
Project Director: MaryLouise E. Kerwin, Ph.D., BCBA

Project BOAST (Behavioral Office-based Achievement and Success Training) is a clinical intervention project funded by a three-year grant from the New Jersey Health Initiatives Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This project was implemented at the MatriArk Family Center at Seabrook House in Bridgeton, New Jersey.

Project Description & Results

Behavioral Office-based Achievement & Success Training (BOAST) established a comprehensive, simulated community life within a residential drug treatment program for women and children and provided a structure for clients to learn and practice critical life skills needed for successful, abstinent living in society. This project addresses the NJHI interest area of Vulnerable Populations, specifically pregnant and parenting women with substance use disorders (SUDs) from throughout NJ admitted to Matriark Family Center (MAFC) residential program at Seabrook House in Cumberland County.  These women often have multiple sources of stress, including low socioeconomic status, single parenthood, lack of social resources and supports, inadequate or unstable housing, and unemployment. The combination of concrete needs, lack of social support, mental health issues, and cognitive ability make these women vulnerable to a myriad of emotional, social, legal, economic, and health problems for them and their children. Therefore, women with SUDs, such as those at MAFC, may have fewer and weaker safety nets at a time when they experience multiple stressors and needs.

The proposed intervention replicated  and extended the empirical support of Dr. Kenneth Silverman’s Therapeutic Workplace (TW)  to initiate and strengthen those behaviors and skills required for successful employment (e.g., typing, data entry, professional demeanor) and a responsible lifestyle (e.g., social skills, managing finances). Given the context of risk for women with SUDs, the intervention is a multicomponent, empirically-supported approach that uses reinforcers and consequences to allow them to build and practice life skills and attitudes (e.g., employment, job skills, drug abstinence, social skills, fiscal management, and quality of life) and to empower these women to conquer the multiple challenges that make them vulnerable. The intervention was delivered within the structure of a simulated workplace as well as throughout daily life in the residential drug treatment program.

Fifty-eight women receiving services at MAFC were enrolled in the BOAST program starting April 2007 through September, 2009. Women worked 5 hours a week for an average of 39.5 sessions. Some preliminary findings are posted in the Publications & Results section of the web site.

Support for this program was provided in part by a grant from the
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through its New Jersey Health Initiatives program.


Page revised 10/23/10
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