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May 2007Vol. 8, No. 4How Effective Are Family Treatment Drug Courts?

Last year, there were almost 200 family treatment drug courts (FTDCs) operating in 43 States, with many additional programs in development. These courts serve thousands of substance-abusing parents and their children through a team approach that involves collaboration among child welfare, drug treatment, and judicial systems; frequent court hearings; close monitoring of parents; and a clear message to parents about the link between successful treatment and the possibility of family reunification. Despite their proliferation, there has been little empirical research on the effectiveness of the FTDC model. A new study, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, represents one of the first outcome studies of the model.

The study compared outcomes for 250 FTDC participants at four sites to outcomes for similar parents who did not receive FTDC services. Results showed that FTDC parents entered substance abuse treatment more quickly, stayed in treatment longer, and completed more treatment episodes. Furthermore, children of FTDC parents entered permanent placements more quickly and were more likely to be reunited with their parents.

The study, “How Effective Are Family Treatment Drug Courts? Outcomes From a Four-Site National Study,” by Beth L. Green, Carrie Furrer, Sonia Worcel, Scott Burrus, and Michael Finigan, was published in the February 2007 issue of Child Maltreatment. It is available for purchase on the Sage website: