Parental substance use disorders can affect the whole family. In cases of child maltreatment where parental substance use is a contributing factor, family treatment courts (FTCs) offer a family-centered, collaborative approach to support the entire family.

Multidisciplinary FTC teams made up of judges, attorneys, caseworkers, substance use treatment providers, and others aim to prevent family separation while providing tailored services to children and family members and helping parents recover. Through FTCs, all family members should have equitable access to and use of culturally responsive, trauma-informed services that improve their safety, permanency, and well-being. Services may include family counseling, substance use treatment, or mental health and trauma treatment.

Family engagement is vital to the FTC process, and judges and others should engage with children, youth, and families to determine the best options for them. Stigma around substance use disorders creates barriers for parents seeking treatment, so professionals may need to reexamine their own beliefs. Systemic racism and implicit bias have created disproportionality in child welfare and other child- and family-serving systems. FTCs provide opportunities to address racial disproportionality and can be used to achieve equitable participation and outcomes. 

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