When the parent of a child in out-of-home care has been affected by substance use recovery timelines are an important factor in supporting family reunification efforts. Many jurisdictions have developed specialized programs to bring child welfare, substance abuse treatment programs, and court systems together to support reunification. The following resources also include State and local examples.
Achieving Timely Reunification (PDF - 278 KB)
Carnochan, Lee, & Austin (2013)
Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 10
Presents a description of practices that have been linked with successful family reunification and questions intended to promote discussion about the use of evidence to support the reunification process. The article includes several areas of discussion around parental substance abuse/addiction and the challenges these families face when it comes to reunification.
Outlines an evidence-based curriculum for families in which one or both parents have a problem with alcohol or drugs that causes an elevated risk for domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect. Celebrating Families works to strengthen recovery, break the cycle of addiction, and increase successful family reunification.
Child Custody and Mothers With Substance Use Disorder: Unintended Consequences (PDF - 239 KB)
University of Washington, Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute
Describes how alcohol or drug addicted mothers who do not complete treatment are likely to use again and how alcohol/drug treatment combined with support services from child welfare systems can help interrupt this pattern of unintended consequences. Guidelines for how and when to consider reunification with children are also provided.
How Does Family Drug Treatment Court Participation Affect Child Welfare Outcomes? (PDF- 352 KB)
Gifford, Eldred, Vernerey, & Sloan (2014)
Child Abuse & Neglect, 38(10)
Examines how parental participation in the Family Drug Court program affects the length of time for their children in foster care and whether participation in Family Drug Court affects reunification rates for youth in foster care. Findings showed that parental completion of a Family Drug Court program was associated with reduced lengths of stay in foster care, but reunification patterns varied, and children whose parents completed these programs were more likely to be reunified.
0–5 Reunification for Parents With Addictions (PDF - 721 KB)
Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. (2016)
Provides information on an intervention model for parents in Pennsylvania with substance abuse and addiction issues that focuses on reunification and recovery support. The program involves matching a recovery advocate with each family that works to address the parent's needs and help with addiction issues and parenting skills.
Eighth Judicial District Court Specialty Court Programs
Eight Judicial District Court Clark County, Nevada
Describes Clark County’s specialty Treatment Court Model, which is designed to engage individuals with substance use disorder histories in counseling, supervision, and education.
Family Recovery and Reunification Program: Intensive Case Management for Substance-Involved Parents With Children in Foster Care (PDF - 184 KB)
Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (2017)
Describes the Illinois Department of Family Services' Family Recovery and Reunification Program, which helps children who have been removed from their parents due to substance use-related abuse or neglect. The goal of the program is to reunify families when parents can provide a safe and drug-free home for their children.
Matching Service to Need: How Family Drug Courts Identify, Assess and Support Families to Achieve Recovery, Safety, and Permanency (PDF - 789 KB)
National Family Drug Court Training and Technical Assistance Program (2016)
Discusses the implementation of adult drug court experiences, literature, and research into the development of Family Drug Courts in California.
Ohio's Opiate Epidemic and Child Protection
Public Children Services Association of Ohio
Explores Ohio's efforts to address the opiate epidemic and how parental addiction can impact permanency for children in foster care in that State. The brief also includes policy recommendations that would help with family reunification.