Family drug courts, also known as dependency drug courts, utilize a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach to serve parents and families that enter child welfare due to parental substance use disorders. Resources on this page present research on the benefits of family drug courts.
The Big 7 – Key Ingredients for an Effective Dependency Drug Court (PDF - 2,540 KB)
National Family Drug Court Training and Technical Assistance Program, Children and Family Futures, and National Association of Drug Court Professionals
Provides an overview of the family drug court model along. The presentation reviews the challenges, barriers, and facilitators of effective implementation and gives information on how to access training and technical assistance resources.
Family Drug Courts (PDF - 362 KB)
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (2016)
Presents an overview of family drug courts, which handle cases of child abuse and neglect that include substance use by the child's parents or guardians. This literature review examines the target population for these courts, explores goals, and presents outcomes.
Family Drug Treatment Courts
Justice Speaker Institute
Provides an overview of family drug treatment courts, which work with families who are affected by substance use and involved in the child welfare system. The courts aim to provide safe, nurturing, and permanent homes for children while providing parents with the support and services they need to become healthy and reunify with their children.
Family Treatment Court Planning Guide (PDF - 2,210 KB)
National Drug Court Institute & Center for Children and Family Futures (2018)
Explores the history of family treatment courts, the services they provide, why they are needed, and more. This guide also explains how a family treatment court can be launched in a jurisdiction.
Family Treatment Drug Courts
County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (2016)
Explores family treatment drug courts as an option for parents involved in the child welfare system who may lose custody of their children due to substance use. The website reviews
Guidance to States: Recommendations for Developing Family Drug Court Guidelines (PDF - 2,796 KB)
Children and Family Futures (2015)
Provides information on best practices and collaborative principles to develop and sustain Family Drug Courts. The Guidelines will assist policy makers and practitioners to enhance and expand these programs across the country.
How Does Family Drug Treatment Court Participation Affect Child Welfare Outcomes?
Gifford, Eldred, Vernerey, & Sloan (2014)
Child Abuse and Neglect, 38(10)
Examines the effectiveness of FDTCs in North Carolina on child welfare outcomes. The report considers three types of parental participation in a FDTC referral, enrolling, and completing an FDTC program.
A New Approach – Family Treatment Courts as Part of a Continuum of Care (PDF - 7,168 KB)
Lemus & Richter (2018)
Children and Family Futures
Discusses the opportunities and challenges of building a continuum of care that is responsive to families' needs and provides proven practices to all families involved with child welfare affected by substance use disorders. The presentation explores approaches in Jefferson County (CO) and Wapello County (IA) as that integrate family treatment courts into a continuum of care.
Plans of Safe Care: An Issue Brief for Judicial Officers (PDF - 409 KB)
National Quality Improvement Center for Collaborative Community Court Teams & National Center for State Courts (2020)
Provides guidance to judicial officers on implementing plans of safe care to address the health needs of substance-exposed infants and their families.
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Child Welfare Information Gateway
Download (PDF - 834KB)
Reasonable and Active Efforts, and Substance Use Disorders: A Toolkit for Professionals Working With Families In or At Risk of Entering the Child Welfare System (PDF - 378 KB)
National Quality Improvement Center for Collaborative Community Court Teams & American Bar Association, Center on Children and the Law (2020)
Provides information for legal professionals about the reasonable and active efforts requirements, examples of how to meet those standards, and ways to use reasonable efforts to support families affected by substance use disorders.
Seven Common Ingredients for Family Treatment Courts
Kushins, Butner, & Wilson, (2017)
Child Law Practice Today, May/June
Highlights research on the seven common ingredients to heal families impacted by substance use disorders and discusses family treatment courts as a solution to help parents receive quality treatment and reunify with their children. The article also offers questions for child welfare and court professionals to ask to effectively advocate for reasonable services.
Strengths Based Approaches to Practice and Family Drug Courts: Is There a Fit?
Lloyd & Brook (2015)
Journal of Family Strengths, 14(1)
Examines the intersection of family drug courts and strengths-based practices.