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


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.


"MATChildWelfare.pdf" (pdf, 432.49Kb)

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