Performance Improvement 2008. Did Special Family Treatment Drug Courts Serve Better Than Traditional Court Handling of Child Welfare Cases?


This evaluation examined whether child welfare and treatment outcomes differed for families served through Family Treatment Drug Courts (FTDCs) compared to families who received traditional court handling of child welfare services. FTDCs are specialized courts designed to work with substance-abusing parents involved with the child welfare system. The evaluation explored not only whether drug courts work, but also how and for whom they work.

The study focused on four Family Treatment Drug Courts located in California, Nevada, and New York. These sites represented differing FTDC models: In one, all substance abusing parents were provided intensive recovery management services. Noncompliant clients were assigned to the Dependency Drug Court. Approximately 10 percent of all cases went to the Drug Court. In another, a more traditional, stand-alone drug court served primarily parents whose children had been removed from their care; and in the last, a stand-alone drug court that accepted parents with neglect allegations only. As a result, many children at this site using this model were not removed from their homes. The study collected data on 802 FTDCs and 1,167 comparison cases. Researchers focused on outcomes for mothers and their families (739 FTDC cases and 1,120 comparison cases).

FTDC parents had more positive treatment outcomes than similar parents who were not served by the FTDC. FTDC parents were more likely to have entered substance abuse treatment services, entered treatment more quickly after their initial court petition, spent more time in treatment and were more likely to complete at least one treatment episode. Child welfare outcomes improved. For example, FTDC children spent significantly less time in out-of-home care and were more likely to be reunified with their parents.

Report Title: Family Treatment Drug Court Evaluation: Final Report.
Agency Sponsor: SAMHSA, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Federal Contact: Kenneth Robertson, 240-276-1621
Performer: Northwest Pacific Consortium

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"PerformanceImprovement2008.pdf" (pdf, 1.29Mb)

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