Yesterday, the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD) released “Therapeutic Services for Children Whose Parents Receive Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Treatment.” The goal of the study was to identify policies and practices that States have implemented to offer high-quality services for children whose parents enter treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs). The study reviews how States have defined therapeutic services for children, what services States offer for children, how a State determines whether and what type of therapeutic services a child should get, and how substance abuse agencies and SUD treatment providers are able to collaborate with other agencies to ensure that children have access to such services.
The NASADAD conducted a review of nine States’ practices based on their adherence to the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SAPTBG), Interim Final Rule. Under this rule, in order to meet the maintenance of effort requirement, states providing services to pregnant and parenting women must include “therapeutic interventions for children in custody of women in treatment which may among other things address their developmental needs and their issues of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect.”
The report found that States vary in their approaches to defining therapeutic services provided for children. It also found that States use a variety of resources to develop new therapeutic services for children and worked with providers to ensure that children whose parents enter SUD treatment receive services. State substance abuse agencies and providers have found that care coordination, information sharing, and case management were key to providing services for children but presented challenges when determining which agency has primary responsibility for ensuring that children receive appropriate services while their parents receive SUD treatment and sharing information across programs and agencies. There remains a need for more widespread evaluation of the impact of therapeutic services to children of parents in treatment and of the specific assessment tools used in determining which children need which services. Finally, as States move towards more family centered treatment, which treats the whole family as a unit and responds to an assessment of the whole family’s needs, they continue to prioritize resources and work to eliminate barriers for those in need.