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Parental Drug Testing in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: The Washington, D.C. Experience

NCJ Number
Date Published
87 pages
The use of parental drug testing in child abuse and neglect cases was studied using data from the District of Columbia Family Court, which has used urinalysis in these cases since 1987.
The research focused on how the testing program has been used, the information it has provided, issues involved in implementing the testing program, case services associated with testing status, case dispositions associated with test results, and how testing first in with other influences on case services and disposition. The research used a nonexperimental comparison group design to study cases from 1989-90. Results revealed that participation in testing was influential in several ways, independent of the effects of other relevant factors. Cases in testing were more likely to have more frequent court hearings over a shorter time and to have shorter overall case processing time than were cases not in testing. Cases in testing were also more likely to have more placements with the primary caregiver or other family members and to have fewer placements in foster homes or institutions. They also received more service referrals for drug treatment, child-oriented services to caregivers, and housing and other basic needs. Cases in testing were also more likely to cooperate with referrals for diagnostic services. Findings indicated that testing may allow courts to process cases more quickly and make greater use of family resources for protective child placements and is associated with cooperation with court and social service efforts to gain evaluative information for service assessment and planning. Tables, figures, footnotes, appended methodological information, and 30 references

Date Published: January 1, 1995