National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts: Site Visits Report . Addressing Substance Abuse


The impact of substance abusing parents upon children has been documented.(4) Because of this concern, some sites discussed changes that they were undertaking, particularly in working with Drug Courtsand substance abuse treatment agencies.

In Ventura County, California, the Drug Court provided mothers and infants identified with positive toxicology prenatally or at birth with an average of 6 months inpatient treatment and supervision to help them maintain their families without the need for placement. The residential settings were facilities that supported both the mother and her infant. This process has been monitored intensively by the court, and the child would be placed if the mother was unable to complete the program successfully. In addition, an interagency case management council met weekly to assure that children and families received services to prevent removal or to speed reunification.

Union County, Florida, also used a Drug Dependency Court program when a dependency petition had been filed, in part, because the caregiver was a substance abuser. The initial, intensive stage of the program took 90–120 days and required participation of a minimum of

4 times per day, 4 times per week in treatment groups and drug testing. In addition to the substance abuse treatment, parents could attend parenting classes, anger management, and other services. The court maintained vigilant supervision of the caregiver’s progress towards sobriety. Thus if the caregiver was not compliant or did not make progress, it was likely that parental rights would be terminated more quickly.

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