In terms of long-term outcomes, results indicate that reunification (return home) was achieved at a higher rate (27%) than rates of similar projects with substance abuse professionals “em- bedded” in the child welfare system, and exceeded the rate attributed to parents or caregivers with substance abuse problems without that service. An additional 34% of participants in the PTP were able to keep their children at home during the PTP at six-month follow-up, which could be considered another positive. Treatment entry (63.5%) and treatment completion (16%) rates were comparable to the rates of projects with clients with substance abuse issues and involved in the child welfare system. Including cases still open at the treatment facilities (20%) brought the treatment completion rate to 36%.
The IDHW system experienced the importance of having a certified substance abuse coun- selor closely connected to the CPS to facilitate the disposition and treatment of parents who are affected by substance abuse. Before the project ended, a commitment was made to expand SALs and the PTP to all regions in the state. The project manager anticipates funding through a combination of federal dollars and other sources (e.g., TANF/SSBG, PSSF [Family Preser- vation, Time-limited Family Reunification], and Substance Abuse funding.
The long-term outcomes are encouraging, but not well defined. Limitations to the final evalu- ation include the lack of an experimental design that would give more definitive answers to cause and effect. Future research should include more data collection to document co-occur- ring problems with these types of participants (e.g., domestic violence, mental disorders, lack of resources such as housing). In addition, although the PTP and SAL intervention have be- come a catalyst for new services for child welfare clients in Idaho, in this project the interven- tion was necessarily quite small. SALs averaged 2.33 face-to-face contacts and 1.67 telephone calls with participants. In the problematic life context of poor, uneducated young mothers abusing methamphetamines and without supporting resources, it is remarkable that this small intervention was associated with so many positive changes for IDHW, participants, and the substance abuse treatment providers.
Recommendations. It should be emphasized that the current study did not focus on the ef- fectiveness of substance abuse services, and therefore no conclusions can be made as to the cause of treatment retention or failure. It does, however, bring into focus the question of what exactly is available and effective with typical parents or caregivers referred to substance abuse treatment from child welfare. External study factors such as the lack of state-funded treatment and treatment availability are important considerations. With the advent of ASFA and short- ened permanency guidelines, it seems important that the public child welfare system inves- tigate the relative efficacy of substance abuse services for their clients, and to advocate for consistent treatment funding and availability.
Idaho Pre-Treatment Program