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Research update on family drug courts

Marlowe, D.B. and Carey, S.M. – 2012

A review of research on the effectiveness of family drug courts (FDCs) in addressing the problem of substance abusing parents involved with the child welfare system. Notes that families involved in FDC programs have better outcomes and higher reunification rates than those involved in traditional reunification services. Parents in FDC programs are more likely to initiate and complete substance abuse treatment programs. Children of FDC participants spend less time in out-of-home placement. Participation in FDC programs reduces the economic costs of out-of-home placement. The cost of treatment services is offset by cost savings in the areas of child welfare and criminal justice services. FDC participation is effective for parents with other risk factors besides substance abuse. Summarizes FDC best practices in areas such as timeliness and length of treatment, relationships with counselors and judges, drug testing, and parenting classes. Includes a table summarizing data from FDC studies. Concludes that promising findings justify the expansion of family drug court programs.