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Matching Service to Need: How Family Drug Courts Identify, Assess and Support Families to Achieve Recovery, Safety, and Permanency: A Practice Brief

Children and Family Futures – 2016

This practice brief explains parental substance use disorders are a prevalent risk factor among families in child welfare services and describes the role of Family Drug Courts (FDCs) in improving outcomes for families affected by parental substance use and child maltreatment. Information is provided on who FDCs should be serving, and how participants’ should be identified, assessed, served, and supported. Seven common FDC ingredients are listed, and the key concepts of risk and safety and service and treatment needs are discussed. Caregiver protective capacities are described in the areas of cognitive protective capacity, behavioral protective capacity, and emotional protective capacities. Recommendations are then provided for FDC practitioners to consider as they seek guidance on whom they shall serve, how their clients should be identified, and how clients should be served based on identified needs. Recommendations include: FDCs should serve families that are in need of treatment and increased supervision and support and are at risk of failure of successfully completing the CWS case plan without such intervention; effective FDCs should develop joint policies and practice protocols among substance use disorder treatment, child welfare and the court to standardize screening and assessment of substance use disorders and risk to children among families in the child welfare system; ensure that clients are properly matched with the appropriate level of services; and provide the scope of services needed to address the effects of parental substance use on family relationships – family-based and family-strengthening approaches towards recovery. Research recommendations are also discussed. 28 references.