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Protecting Children in Families Affected by Substance Use Disorders

ICF International – 2009

Each day, the safety and well-being of children across the Nation are threatened by child abuse and neglect. Many of these children live in homes where substance use disorders (substance abuse and dependence) create additional and compounding problems. The child welfare and alcohol and drug abuse treatment fields are working to find effective ways to serve families where this overlap occurs. Intervening effectively in the lives of these children and their families is not the responsibility of a single agency or professional group, but rather it is a shared community concern. Since the late 1970s, the Child Abuse and Neglect User Manual Series has provided guidance on child protection to hundreds of thousands of multidisciplinary professionals and concerned community members. Th e User Manual Series offers a foundation for understanding child maltreatment and the roles and responsibilities of various practitioners in its prevention, identification, investigation, and treatment. Through the years, the manuals have served as valuable resources for building knowledge, promoting effective practices, and enhancing community collaboration. A number of changes have occurred that dramatically affect each community’s response to child maltreatment since the last update of the User Manual Series in the early 1990s. The changing landscape reflects increased recognition of the complexity of issues facing children and families, new legislation, practice innovations, and systems reform efforts. Significant advances in research have helped shape new directions for interventions, while ongoing evaluations show “what works.” The Office on Child Abuse and Neglect within the Children’s Bureau of the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has developed this third edition of the User Manual Series to reflect increased knowledge and the evolving state of practice on child protection. The updated and new manuals are comprehensive in scope, while succinct in presentation and easy to follow, and they address trends and concerns relevant to today’s professional. Th is manual, Protecting Children in Families Affected by Substance Use Disorders, provides a basis for understanding parental substance use disorder and its relationship to child maltreatment. Th e manual is intended to help child protective services (CPS) caseworkers identify when drug and alcohol use by a parent or other caregiver is a factor in child welfare cases and work more effectively to meet the needs of all family members involved. The manual encourages enhanced collaboration between CPS and alcohol and drug abuse treatment agencies. While CPS caseworkers are the primary audience, alcohol and drug abuse treatment providers may find the manual helpful in building their understanding of child protection issues among the families with whom they work.