The McAuley Residence in Portland. Credit: Courtesy of Northern Light Mercy Hospital

A home for women in recovery, and their children, plans to open in the Bangor area in the coming months.

It will replicate the mission and work of the McAuley Residence, run by Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland, which houses 15 women and up to 30 children, and offers therapeutic options on site, said Melissa Skahan, vice president of mission integration at the hospital.

“We are hopeful to work out all the details to begin to serve folks in this calendar year,” Skahan said. “We’re excited. It’s pretty special work.”

The hospital does not have a location in the Bangor area planned yet, and it is currently working out a contract with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, which would put roughly $500,000 toward the endeavor, Skahan said. The hospital received word in June that it was the successful bidder after the department put out a request for proposals.

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The McAuley Residence, originally started by the Sisters of Mercy several decades ago, has evolved into a two-year program for women with substance use disorders, and their children under the age of 10. It’s served about 100 families over the past decade.

Though each woman’s care is different, their initial time at the home is largely focused on ensuring they have high-quality substance use treatment and primary care, Skahan said. Bangor’s home would do the same.

In addition to connecting with providers off site, women also receive therapy and other interventions on site. They work with a parent coach and, if they have lost custody, coordinate with Child Protective Services and others to set the stage for reunifying with their children.

Later on in the program, women focus on school, work and financial planning. Finally, they have to secure housing to transition out of the home.

It is considered a highly structured environment with random drug tests, curfews and other rules.

Credit: Courtesy of Northern Light Mercy

The Bangor home would allow women to take medication-assisted treatment, and it would be certified to national standards set by the National Association of Recovery Residences — putting it in line for forthcoming state funding for recovery homes.

“Everything we do on site is evidence based. We work collaboratively with many area treatment providers, the schools, child protective, all kinds of different partners to ensure we have significant outcomes,” Skahan said.

Those outcomes include reunifying 95 percent of mothers who have lost custody of their children. Roughly 75 percent of the women remain in recovery during the two-year program and beyond, Skahan said.

If someone relapses, most often the home gets them into a higher level of care, such as an in-patient facility, Skahan said.

“There is nothing like working with moms who are really trying to find their way. They’re highly motivated, so, if they do relapse, they are most often very, very interested in finding their way back. We seldom have people that really don’t want to work with us,” she said.

Maine Focus is a journalism and community engagement initiative at the Bangor Daily News. Questions? Write to

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Erin Rhoda

Erin Rhoda is the editor of Maine Focus, a team that conducts journalism investigations and projects at the Bangor Daily News. She also writes for the newspaper, often centering her work on domestic and...