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Blending Perspectives and Building Common Ground: A Report to Congress on Substance Abuse and Child Protection

NCJ Number
Date Published
193 pages
This report to the U.S. Congress on substance abuse and child protection meets a legislative mandate to describe the extent and scope of substance abuse in the child welfare population, the types of services provided to this population, the effectiveness of these services, and recommendations for legislative changes that might be needed to improve service coordination.
The report notes that child neglect is the predominant type of maltreatment in families with substance abuse problems, and 8.3 million U.S. children live with at least one parent who is alcoholic or in need of substance abuse treatment. Once in foster care, children whose parents have substance abuse problems tend to remain in care for longer periods than other children. Factors in the postnatal environment mediate prenatal factors in predicting developmental outcomes. In discussing the context of collaboration and overcoming barriers to quality service, the report advises that accommodating differences between the child welfare and substance abuse fields will require sustained efforts to learn about and understand one another and identify shared expectations. A description of approaches for addressing joint substance abuse and child maltreatment problems focuses on prevention; training and identification skills; enhancing risk assessment, needs assessment, and referral capacity; increasing the availability, access, and appropriateness of substance abuse treatment; promoting client retention and the effectiveness of services; improving time lines and decision-making for children; and supporting ongoing recovery. The report challenges State and local service providers to identify opportunities for prevention and treatment services for children who are in foster care and for those under protective supervision in their own homes. Suggestions and guidelines are offered. 167 references, 21 figures, 6 tables, and appended information on Federal programs pertinent to substance abuse treatment services for the child welfare population