While effective collaboration between substance abuse and child welfare agencies is often difficult, it is possible and is the only way to address successfully the needs of the families we serve. Chapter 7 contains examples of efforts being made around the country to bring our disciplines closer together. While no easy recipe exists for putting together a comprehensive plan for addressing the problems of substance abusing families whose children suffer from maltreatment, effective pieces of the puzzle are in place in many communities. Our challenge is to learn from these efforts in order to build an effective system of care for families. While full solutions are not at hand, solid, practical next steps are clearly discernible.
Resource issues quickly arise whenever we discuss improving services for families. These issues are real and important. But we believe the issues faced in improving services for these families are not just about having additional treatment funding, but also about how we do business together. Changing the ways these systems relate to one another will do more to improve outcomes for these children and families than will simply spending significantly more money under current circumstances. Better use of current resources will allow agencies and communities to determine to what extent additional resources are needed and will demonstrate how such resources may be deployed most effectively.