Working With Caregivers, Children, and Youth With Substance Use Disorders

Last updated: 01-30-2021

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Working With Caregivers, Children, and Youth With Substance Use Disorders

Substance use disorders effect every aspect of a family’s functioning. When caregivers have a substance use disorder, their parenting capacity may be lowered, which may result in child welfare involvement. Among youth, substance use disorders may increase behavioral challenges and lower academic outcomes. In recognition of these negative outcomes, increased attention is being paid to effective treatment for substance use disorders among caregivers, children, and youth. Several factors influence which treatment type is recommended, including the specific substance, available social support, and demographic factors. Below, find resources for child welfare workers working with caregivers, children, and youth experiencing substance use disorders.

Avoiding Common Triggers to Relapse American Addiction Centers (2020) Normalizes relapse as a component of addiction recovery and identifies specific triggers that may contribute to relapse.

How Can Family-Based Residential Treatment Programs Help Reduce Substance Use and Improve Child Welfare Outcomes? Casey Family Programs (2019) Discusses outcomes for family-based residential treatment programs in reducing the historical disconnect between effective treatment programs and child welfare systems.

One in Three Children Entered Foster Care in 2017 Because of Parental Drug Abuse Sepulveda & Williams (2019) Child Trends Summarizes data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System highlighting the relationship between substance use and child welfare. The web page also provides a series of reports discussing effective reforms that child welfare agencies can implement to support children and youth affected by parental substance use disorders.

SNAP Approach: Preserving Families Through Partnerships U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare Describes a program that builds on the Strengths, Needs, Abilities, and Preferences (SNAP profile) of families within the community. The SNAP approach enhances a community's collaborative infrastructure capacity to mitigate the risk of child abuse and neglect perpetrated by parents with substance use disorders.

Substance Abuse Treatment (Adult) California Evidence-based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (2020) Provides evidence-based therapeutic interventions designed to address substance use disorders among adults.

Transitioning to a Family Centered Approach: Best Practices and Lessons Learned From Three Adult Drug Courts Children and Family Futures & National Drug Court Institute (2017) Provides resources and instructions for creating comprehensive family-centered treatment addressing substance use disorders.

Trauma-Informed Care for Families Affected by Substance Use Disorders  [Webinar] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (2015) Explores the systems- and practice-level changes that can be made by agencies that serve families affected by substance use disorders to provide trauma-informed care.

Understanding Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Resource Guide for Professionals Referring to Treatment (PDF - 641 KB) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (2018) Guides child welfare professionals in linking clients to substance use disorder services. This resource also includes a list of questions to support collaboration.

Intensive Care Coordination for Children and Youth With Complex Mental and Substance Use Disorders: State and Community Profiles (PDF - 2,500 KB) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2019) Describes evidence-based practices implemented by States in order to provide wraparound services to youth with mental health and/or substance use disorders.

Interventions for Substance Use Disorders in Adolescence: A Systematic Review U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2018) Synthesizes research studies examining the most effective methods for treating adolescent substance use disorders, including family therapies, cognitive behavioral therapies, and motivational interviewing.

Substance Abuse Treatment (Adolescent) California Evidence-based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (2020) Provides evidence-based therapeutic interventions designed to address substance use disorders among adolescents.

Substance Use Problems and Service Utilization by Transition-Age Foster Youth: Early Findings From CalYOUTH (PDF - 579 KB) Courtney & Charles (2015) Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago Presents findings from a longitudinal study examining the efficacy of substance use disorder services delivered to child welfare-involved youth  transitioning out of care.

Substance Use Screening and Assessment Instruments Database University of Washington and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute (2020) Assists clinicians and researchers in finding instruments used for screening and assessing substance use and substance use disorders.

Treatment Strategies for Substance Use Disorders in Adolescents: A Clinical Review Hammond & Sharma (2017) Psychiatric Times, 34(6) Presents risk factors for the development of substance use disorders as well as core principles for addressing them among adolescents.

Youth and Young Adults U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration & Bridging Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (2019) Highlights resources for empowering and equipping youth in substance use disorder recovery.


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