Bernadine Goudeau was raised by alcoholics. After a 33-year nursing career at Gardena Memorial Hospital, she launched a nonprofit with the goal of fighting substance abuse in her community. Since opening its doors in 2004, Bernie’s Lil Women Center has been a source of hope and healing for 7,800 Los Angeles families suffering from addiction.
Accommodations and Food
Bernie’s Lil Women’s Center’s residential treatment home is designed specifically for prenatal women. There are five private rooms, each with its own bathroom. A media room is equipped with a gaming area and TV for down time and there’s a computer in the study for vocational purposes such as resume building and job searching.
An in-house chef prepares custom-made meals for residents. Breakfast items include eggs, pancakes, bacon and the like. Lunch items are less elaborate—sandwiches and cold salads. The women always have a large dinner featuring spaghetti, fish, pork chops and more. The menu is always plentiful and varied, considering that each of these women is eating for two. Sugar and caffeine are not kept on the premises, but special requests for treats are sometimes granted.
Treatment and Staff
Residential treatment at Bernie’s Lil Women’s Center is 12-step in focus and extended in duration; clients stay on for seven months or more, engaging in group and individual therapy and educational classes. This is not a medical facility, so there are no detox services, but Goudeau herself specializes in dual diagnosis cases and if a client’s issues are beyond her scope, she is referred to a psychiatrist for additional support. Again, because these are pregnant clients, they have weekly appointments with a visiting doctor.
Bernie’s Lil Women’s Center therapists use CBT and DBT as treatment modalities for daily groups and often see clients twice a week on an individual basis. Because the rehab works with a lot of court-ordered clients who struggle with parenting, or new mothers, they also provide parenting classes.
Weekly on-site 12-step meetings are mandatory for residents of the house and while transportation to off-site meetings is provided, attendance is not required.
Women in the residential program wake at 7 am for breakfast at 8. Everyone is given her itinerary for the day. Group counseling goes from 9 am to 10:30 am. Afterwards, they either participate in an activity (often community service) or do yoga/Lamaze class. Lunch is served at noon. From 1 pm to 3 pm, the women are given free time. Following this, they take care of personal things like individual therapy or an appointment with the doctor. At 6 pm, dinner is served. After dinner is either a 12-step meeting or free time until lights out.
Visitation is coordinated through the program director—guests and day passes must be approved. Visitors can come for an hour every day and a client may leave on a day pass with a family member.
Women in the residential program are transported to the main facility for treatment. Outpatient substance abuse services are also provided here. There are a total of 64 highly credentialed full-time staff members on the payroll—a client-to-staff ratio of 10-to-one—and most of these employees are women.
Women have the option of yoga and Lamaze classes at no extra charge. In addition to walking for exercise, there are a couple of stationary bikes and a treadmill in a small workout area in the house.
Bernie’s Lil Women’s Center also works in conjunction with local community programs to provide art and music classes. Clients are treated to roller-skating, museums, live performances and barbeque picnics, where even the doctors and Goudeau herself join in.
In addition to the residential treatment home, Bernie’s Lil Women’s Center has four sober living homes (from South Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley) and also facilitates outpatient substance abuse services for adults and adolescents.
Bernie’s Lil Women Center goes above and beyond to create a safe, comfortable haven for their pregnant clients. They also have sober-living homes and outpatient services available to the community at large, including the homeless. The only caveat is that at press time, they were not accepting new clients.
Bernie’s Lil Women Center
11905 S Central Ave, Ste 204
Los Angeles, CA 90059
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