In testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance earlier this year, Dr. Nancy K. Young, the Director of Children and Family Futures, paints a grim portrait of opiate use.

  • Over a seven-year period of time, heroin dependency has doubled and overdose rates have nearly tripled.
  • Over 10 million people report non-medical use of prescription painkillers.
  • About half of infants born with exposure to opioids (NAS) during the mother’s pregnancy will experience withdrawal.
  • Children placed in out-of-home care due to parental substance abuse is fast becoming the main reason for removal, with infants making up the largest share.

What can be done to help families affected by opiate use?  The federal government has funded two grant programs that include evaluation.  Regional Partnerships  have been funded since 2006 with a total of 82 grants (including extensions).  Here are the key outcomes:

  • With services, most children were able to remain safely at home.
  • 83% of children in out-of-home placement were reunified with their family.
  • Only 4% of children had substantiated mistreatment within 6 months of returning home.

One of the Regional Partnership programs uses a model of Intensive Family Preservation Services to help families of NAS infants, with the following outcomes:

  • Mean scores on family functioning as measured by the NCFAS assessment tools showed improvement in all 10 domains.
  • 91% of children have remained in their homes following services.
  • 91% of families have had no additional substantiated maltreatment.

The federal government has also funded meth grants which have been used to support 12 drug courts (about 350 drug courts nationwide serve 19,000 families annually).  Here are the outcomes from the 12 meth drug courts:

  • 90% of children were able to remain in their own home.
  • Keeping children safely at home saved over $34,000 per child in placement costs at one site.
  • 68% of children in out-of-home placement were reunified within 12 months.
  • Under 6% of children re-entered foster care.

To read the complete testimony, visit: http://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/23feb2016Young.pdf

The federal government has just issued a publication, “A Collaborative Approach to the Treatment of Pregnant Women with Opioid Use Disorders,” that provides guidance to child welfare professionals and service providers as they work to address this population’s unique needs.  The report recommends building a collaborative team with a comprehensive framework for intervention.

To view the report, visit: https://www.ncsacw.samhsa.gov/resources/opioid-use-disorders-and-medication-assisted-treatment/default.aspx

New federal legislation (H.R. 5456) would fund substance abuse prevention and treatment services to keep families together.  The Family First Prevention Services Act is supported by over 400 organizations, including NFPN, and was passed by the House of Representatives in June.  It is awaiting action in the Senate.

To view the legislation, visit: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/5456/text.

For a summary of the legislation, visit: http://waysandmeans.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Family-First-Prevention-Services-Act-Summary-061016.pdf.

Posted by Priscilla Martens, NFPN Executive Director

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