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October 2008Vol. 9, No. 8Evidence-Based Treatments for Parental Substance Abuse

In an effort to determine the types of treatment approaches most effective with substance abusing parents in the child welfare system, a new study examined both individual-level interventions and system-level collaborative efforts between the child welfare and the alcohol and other drug (AOD) systems. The literature review identified a number of evidence-based program components and collaborative models associated with positive outcomes. For individual-level interventions, these components included:

  • Women-centered treatment that involves children
  • Specialized health and mental health services
  • Home visitation services
  • Concrete support and assistance (e.g., transportation, child care)
  • Short-term targeted interventions
  • Comprehensive and holistic interventions

For system-level cooperation between the child welfare and AOD systems, core components included:

  • Well-qualified AOD personnel in child welfare offices
  • Joint case planning
  • Official committees for guiding collaborative efforts
  • Training and cross-training
  • Protocols for sharing confidential information
  • Dependency drug courts

"Substance Abuse Intervention for Parents Involved in the Child Welfare System: Evidence and Implications," by Kathy Lemon Osterling and Michael J. Austin, appears in the Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, Vol. 5(1/2), and is available through the website: