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Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder in the Child Welfare Context: Challenges and Opportunities

Laura Radel, Melinda Baldwin, Gilbert Crouse, Robin Ghertner, and Annette Waters – 2018

This brief describes four key challenges related to the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in child welfare contexts for parents with opioid use disorder. It draws upon results from a mixed methods study examining how substance use affects child welfare systems across the country. Key challenges discussed include: Limited availability of appropriate treatment; Misunderstanding of MAT by some stakeholder; Limited interaction between child welfare agencies and MAT providers; Aligning systems and stakeholders with different perspectives and objectives. The brief also describes opportunities to address each of the challenges described. Opportunities include new funding to expand medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder; funding soon to be available under the Family First Prevention Services Act which states may use to fund evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders to prevent children’s entry into foster care; and additional steps that could enhance MAT availability and improve outcomes for children and families involved with the child welfare system in part because of parents’ opioid use. (Author abstract)