The Effect of Family Drug Treatment Courts on Foster Care Outcomes

Elizabeth J. Gifford, Duke University
Lindsey Eldred, Duke University
Allison Vernerey, Duke University
Frank Sloan, Duke University

Parental substance use is a risk factor for maltreatment. Family drug treatment courts (FDTCs) are a policy option to treat the underlying condition and promote family preservation. This study examines the effectiveness of FDTCs in North Carolina on child welfare outcomes. Data come from North Carolina records from child protection services, court system, and birth records. The sample includes 566 children who were placed into foster care and whose parents participated in a FDTC program. Findings indicate that children of parents who were referred but did not enroll or who enrolled but did not complete had longer stays in foster care than children of completers. Reunification rates for children of completers were also higher. Outcomes for children in the referred and enrolled groups did not differ in the multivariate analyses. Future research should examine factors for improving participation and completion rates as well as factors involved in scaling programs so that more families are served.

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Presented in Session 180: Incarcerated, Foster Care, and Juvenile Justice Youth: Development and Outcomes