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Substance Abuse Implications for Child Welfare Professionals

In the United States 11% of children, approximately 8.3 million, live with at least one parent who is either an alcoholic, or in need of treatment for the abuse of illicit drugs. Parental chemical dependency was a contributing factor in the out of home placement of at least 53% of 482,000 children and youth in the custody of the child welfare system (nationally). Due to the epidemic of substance abuse, millions of American children lack safe and permanent families who can help them grow into healthy, productive adults.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), among parents receiving substance abuse treatment, 44% of women and 15% of men report they entered treatment to retain or regain custody of their children. Substance abuse can devastate families. However, alcohol and other drug abuse are treatable, and appropriate interventions can protect children as well as help parent’s better care for themselves and their children.

The Nature of Substance Abuse, one of three trainings developed to challenge the professional to look at their personal and professional biases, to explore the nature of substances of abuse, to review important terminology for effective interviewing, and to identify associated (drug) paraphernalia that can alert a professional to substance abuse within a clients home, and the various substances and their effects, and most importantly to remove the barriers to helping chemically involved families and to insure the safety, well being and permanency for all children.

Substance Abuse and the Family, the second of three training on Understanding Substance Abuse, was developed to challenge the professional to look at their personal and professional biases, recognize the impact of addiction on the family, to evaluate the neonatal and peri natal impact of maternal substance abuse, to illustrate the possible bio-psycho-social effects of substance abuse and to identify developmental concerns, to assess risk and safety in families.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), among parents receiving substance abuse treatment, 44% of women and 15% of men report they entered treatment to retain or regain custody of their children. Substance abuse can devastate families. However, alcohol and other drug abuse are treatable, and appropriate interventions can protect children as well as help parent’s better care for themselves and their children.

This third module of Understanding Substance Abuse will concentrate on Treatment options open to families challenged with effect of alcohol or drug behavior. This module will offer the child welfare professional an opportunity to identify, establish, and maintain collaborative relationships with individuals, groups, community-based organizations and government agencies to advocate for equity and availability of culturally sensitive resources and services for families affected by Substance Abuse.

Page last updated: February 14, 2007