A paradox of support: the Department of Children and Families and their construction of the "good mother"
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Pregnant women with substance use issues are a doubly at-risk group in desperate need of support. Using open-ended interviews, participant-observation, and media analysis, I examine the support provided by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) in Massachusetts for pregnant women who seek treatment at Project Empowerment. Project Empowerment provides prenatal care, maintenance therapy, and other services to expectant mothers who struggle with substance use issues. Drawing upon Foucault’s (1975) notion of surveillance, I explore how pregnant women with substance use issues are surveilled by agencies, and how these surveillance agencies structure their care and policies through their definitions of what it means to be a “good mother.” I argue that through the Department of Children and Families definition of the “good mother,” DCF produces an unintended paradox of support for pregnant women with substance use issues in Massachusetts.