Effects of family treatment drug courts on substance abuse and child welfare outcomes

Child Abuse Review, 17(6), 427-443.

Nov. 2008


Worcel, S. D., Furrer, C. J., Green, B. L., Burrus, S. W. M., & Finigan, M. W.

The study found that mothers involved in an FTDC had more positive treatment outcomes than similar mothers who were not served by a FTDC. FTDC mothers were more likely to enter substance abuse treatment than non-FTDC mothers, and they entered treatment more quickly after their initial court petition than did non-FTDC mothers. Compared to non-FTDC mothers who entered treatment, FTDC mothers were twice as likely to complete at least one treatment period. In addition, FTDC children were significantly more likely to be reunified with their mothers than were non-FTDC children. The basic FTDC model, similar to adult drug courts, includes regular, frequent court hearings, intensive judicial monitoring of clients’ progress, timely substance abuse treatment and other needed services, frequent drug testing, and rewards and sanctions linked to parental compliance with their service plan. FTDCs use teams that include representatives from the judicial, child welfare, and treatment systems, who support and monitor each parent as a team. For parents involved in FTDCs, the primary motivation for participation is to be reunified with their children. The evaluation examined whether court, child welfare, and treatment outcomes differed for 301 families served by 3 FTDCs, compared with a matched sample of 1,220 families with substance abuse issues who received traditional child welfare services. Propensity score weights were used to account for measured differences between the FTDC and comparison groups.

Associated Staff

Beth L. Green
Michael W. Finigan