Child Welfare and Alcohol and Drug Use Statistics
In the past three decades, the United States has experienced at least three major shifts in substance use trends that have had dramatic effects on children and families. However, the increase of opioid misuse has been described by long-time child welfare professionals as having the worst effects on child welfare systems that they have seen. Studies indicate that there is substantial overlap between parents involved in the child welfare and substance use treatment systems. Identifying these families is difficult, as neither child welfare nor substance use treatment are required to capture the data elements necessary to identify families in both systems.
It is important for professionals in the child welfare, substance use disorder treatment, and court systems and their partners to understand how many children and families in their community are affected by parental alcohol and other drug (AOD) use and child maltreatment. Some key national datasets and individual research studies identify the prevalence of substance use among families involved with child welfare services. Staying abreast of these statistics can help professionals understand trends, determine community need, and better tailor services for families.
The graphs below reflect data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) and Treatment Episode Data Set Admissions (TEDS-A).
Additional Data Resources
Child welfare, substance use treatment agencies, courts and their partners benefit from understanding how children and families in their community are affected by parental alcohol and other drug (AOD) use or child maltreatment. Additional information related to child welfare or alcohol and drug use is available from the following federal data sources or data sets.
National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) includes graphics, tables, and figures related to pregnancy status and substance use.
According to the NSDUH webpage, the NSDUH measures:
- use of illegal drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco and misuse of prescription drugs
- substance use disorder and substance use treatment major depressive episode and depression care
- serious psychological distress, mental illness, and mental health care.
The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Women Annual Report may be of special interest as it provides data specific to women included in the NSDUH.
Child Maltreatment Reports and associated National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) datasets
The NCANDS dataset is the primary source for the annual Child Maltreatment Report. The most recent report is Child Maltreatment 2019 (PDF 5.2 MB). Additional year reports can be accessed through the Children’s Bureau website.
Datasets are available from the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN) website.