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 stakeholders
- 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.