Innovations in child welfare interventions for caregivers with substance use disorders and their children


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Families who enter the Child Welfare System (CWS) as a result of a caregiver’s substance use fare worse at every stage from investigation to removal to reunification (Marsh, Smith, & Bruni, 2011). Intervening with caregivers with Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) and their children poses unique challenges related to the structure and focus of the current CWS. Research demonstrates that caregivers with SUDs are at a greater risk for maladaptive parenting practices, including patterns of insecure attachment and difficulties with attunement and responsiveness (Suchman, Paulo, DeCoste, & Mayes, 2006). Caregivers with SUDs have also often experienced early adversity and trauma. However, traditional addiction services generally offer limited opportunities to focus on parenting or trauma, and traditional parenting programs rarely address the special needs of parents with SUDs. This article details four innovative interventions that integrate trauma-informed addiction treatments with parenting for families involved in the child welfare system. Common mechanisms for change across programs are identified as critical components for intervention. This work suggests the need for a paradigm shift in how cases involving caregivers with substance use disorders are approached in the child welfare system.

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