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February 2012Vol. 13, No. 1Practice Model for Child Welfare and Substance Use

Responding to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' call for interagency collaboration in serving families with substance use disorders involved with child welfare, Children and Family Futures (CFF) developed a practice model centered on multidisciplinary partnerships.

The Collaborative Practice Model for Family Recovery, Safety and Stability
outlines links between the child welfare, juvenile court, substance abuse treatment, mental health, and other systems vital for family recovery and resilience. The practice model highlights best practice examples to guide communities and agencies in tailoring cross-system collaborations.

This approach not only resonates with the core values of child welfare but also those within the substance use disorder realm in achieving success when treating substance use disorders. The model focuses on 10 linkages:

  • Mission, underlying values, and principles of collaboration
  • Screening and assessment
  • Engagement and retention in care
  • Services to children of parents with substance use disorders
  • Working with the community and supporting families
  • Efficient communication and sharing information systems
  • Budgeting and program sustainability
  • Training and staff development
  • Working with related agencies
  • Joint accountability and shared outcomes

Multiple examples of organizations that have developed each type of linkage are provided. The guide concludes with a list of resources and tools to promote collaboration and a matrix that details characteristics of progress—from fundamental practice to good to best practice—for each of the system linkage elements.
This free publication is available on the CFF website: (2 MB)